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David B. Malone

Jonathan Blanchard would become an heir of the principles of the evangelical postmillennial Christianity exemplified in America's Benevolent Empire of the early 1800s, wherein activists sought to reform American society through education and religious missions. Blanchard was born the eleventh of fifteen children, near Rockingham, Vermont, to Polly Lovell and the farmer Jonathan Blanchard Sr. The young Jonathan was able to take advantage of a variety of educational opportunities, eventually graduating from Middlebury College, after which he enrolled in Andover Theological Seminary.

Blanchard left Andover in September 1836 because it failed to stand against slavery and became an abolitionist lecturer for the American Anti Slavery Society He was one of Theodore Dwight Weld s Seventy preaching the sin of slavery throughout Pennsylvania with the hopes that the consciences of slaveholders would be pierced over their treatment of those whom Blanchard echoing the words of Jesus lamented as the ...

Article

Wayne Sparkman

pastor, theologian, and churchman, was born in Selma, Alabama, the son of Wilbur McDonald Bottoms, a teacher, and Gussie Adolphus Shivers. While his mother's family had been Methodists, his father was a Reformed Presbyterian who graduated from Wilberforce College in Ohio and answered a call to teach at the Knox Academy in Selma. This school was operated by the Reformed Presbyterian Church of Selma, and it was upon taking this post that Wilbur Bottoms met and married Shivers. Lawrence was raised in a highly unusual situation, for neither the school nor the church was segregated. Whites who taught at the school also lived on the school property and attended the church as members alongside African American teachers and other members in the congregation. At times the church had a white pastor, and at other times the pastor was African American.

Lawrence continued his education in Pennsylvania first at ...

Article

Dickson D. Jr. Bruce

Born in Michigan, James D. Corrothers was raised in the predominantly white community of South Haven by his paternal grandfather, a man of Cherokee and Scotch-Irish ancestry. He moved to Muskegon at age fourteen, supporting himself and his grandfather. Shortly thereafter he moved to Indiana, then to Springfield, Ohio, working as a laborer. There, in his teens, he began his literary career, publishing a poem, “The Deserted School House”, in the local newspaper.

Corrothers's literary career received a boost when, at eighteen, he relocated to Chicago. Working in a white barber shop, he met journalist-reformer Henry Demarest Lloyd and showed him some poems. Lloyd arranged for their publication in the Chicago Tribune, getting Corrothers a custodial job in the Tribune offices Corrothers was soon asked to do an article on Chicago s African American elite He was chagrined when the story appeared rewritten by a white reporter ...

Article

William C. Fischer

journalist, poet, and clergyman, was born in Chain Lake Settlement, Cass County, Michigan, a colony first settled by fugitive slaves in the 1840s. His parents were James Richard Carruthers (the spelling was later changed by Corrothers), a black soldier in the Union army, and Maggie Churchman, of French and Madagascan descent, who died when Corrothers was born. Corrothers was legally adopted by his paternal grandfather, a pious and respected man of Cherokee and Scotch-Irish origins, who raised young Corrothers in relative poverty. They lived in several roughneck towns along the eastern shore of Lake Michigan, where Corrothers attended school and became aware of racial hostility. When he was just a boy family members introduced him to a rich vein of African American folk tales that he would later draw upon for a number of his dialect sketches.

Working in his teens variously as a sawmill hand hotel menial coachman ...

Article

William C. Fischer

Corrothers, James David (02 July 1869–12 February 1917), journalist, poet, and clergyman, was born in Chain Lake Settlement, Cass County, Michigan, a colony first settled by fugitive slaves in the 1840s. His parents were James Richard Carruthers (spelling later changed by Corrothers), a black soldier in the Union army, and Maggie Churchman, of French and Madagascan descent, who died when Corrothers was born. Corrothers was legally adopted by his nonblack paternal grandfather, a pious and respected man of Cherokee and Scotch-Irish origins, who raised young Corrothers in relative poverty. They lived in several roughneck towns along the eastern shore of Lake Michigan, where Corrothers attended school and became aware of racial hostility. In his boyhood family members introduced him to a rich vein of African-American folk tales that he would later draw upon for a number of his dialect sketches.

Working in his teens variously as a ...

Article

David B. McCarthy

Presbyterian pastor and educator, was born in Omaha, Nebraska, one of three children born to Baptist parents Mary Lou Brookings Costen, a homemaker, and William Theodore Costen, a railroad worker. At the encouragement of his dying father, who was impressed with the personal discipline instilled by Costen's Catholic school education, Costen was baptized into the Roman Catholic Church at the age of seven. Costen attended Catholic elementary and junior high schools, and he considered the priesthood. When Costen was sixteen, however, a Presbyterian congregation moved to temporary quarters across the street from the Costen house, and its pastor, the Reverend Charles Tyler, began to exert a strong influence on him. Costen joined the Presbyterian Church and began to think about a calling as a Presbyterian pastor.

When Costen graduated from Omaha's Central High School in 1949 a high school counselor suggested that he apply for a ...

Article

David B. McCarthy

musician, educator, and prominent Presbyterian, was born Melva Ruby Wilson in Due West, South Carolina, one of five children of Azzie Lee Ellis Wilson and John Theodore Wilson Sr., both of whom were college graduates and teachers. Because the local black public schools were unaccredited, her parents sent her to a black boarding school, Harbison Junior College in Irmo, South Carolina, at the age of fourteen. Two years later, at the age of sixteen, she entered Johnson C. Smith University in Charlotte, North Carolina. There she met fellow student James Hutten Costen. She graduated with a BA in Education in 1952 and married Jim Costen the day before he graduated in 1953. They eventually had two sons and one daughter, James Jr., Craig, and Cheryl.

Costen taught elementary school in the Mecklenburg County school system from 1952 to 1955 the year her husband ...

Article

Henry Highland Garnet was born a slave on a plantation in Kent County, Maryland, where his grandfather, a former chieftain in Africa, was a leader of the slave community. In 1824 Garnet's father escaped, bringing the rest of his family with him to New York City. While the father became an active leader of the African Methodist Episcopal Church, Garnet was enrolled in the African Free School. He spent several years afterward as a sailor and a farmer's apprentice before returning to school, this time under the tutelage of abolitionists Theodore S. Wright and Peter Williams, who ran the Canal Street School for African Americans.

After graduation from the Canal Street School, Garnet and several other young blacks, including abolitionist and nationalist Alexander Crummell enrolled in a newly established academy in New Canaan New Hampshire Only weeks after the school opened however angry white ...

Article

Milton C. Sernett

Garnet, Henry Highland (23 December 1815–13 February 1882), clergyman and abolitionist, was born in New Market, Kent County, Maryland, the son of George and Henrietta (later called Elizabeth), slaves. Henry escaped with his parents and seven siblings to Wilmington, Delaware, in 1824, assisted by the Quaker Thomas Garrett, a key figure in the Underground Railroad. After a brief stay in Bucks County, Pennsylvania, the Garnets settled in New York City, where Henry received a grammar school education at the African Free School.

In 1828 Henry worked as a cabin boy on a ship making two voyages to Cuba The next year he returned from working as a cook and steward on board a schooner sailing from New York City to Washington D C to find that his family had been broken up by slave hunters His sister was tried as a fugitive but his parents had ...

Article

Gregory Eiselein

An antislavery radical, Henry Highland Garnet is best known for “An Address to the Slaves of the United States of America” (1843), a speech delivered in Buffalo at the National Convention of Colored Citizens. In the “Address” and later texts, he advocated active resistance to slavery, urging slaves to take freedom for themselves. Deeply influenced by David Walker's Appeal (1829), Garnet argued that slaves had a moral obligation to resist slavery, using violence when necessary.

Garnet's thinking emerged from an activist-nationalist tradition within African American culture passed on to him by his family. In 1815, he was born into an enslaved family living on a Maryland plantation. His father, the son of a Mandingo leader, took enormous pride in his family's heritage. When Garnet was nine, they escaped to New York City. In 1829 while he was at sea serving as a cabin boy ...

Article

Nathan L. Grant

Henry Highland Garnet was born to the slaves George and Henrietta (later called Elizabeth), near New Market, in Kent County, Maryland. Upon the family's escape to freedom in Delaware in 1824, George renamed himself and the entire family; Henry's previous name is unknown. “Garnet” was possibly derived from Thomas Garrett, the famous Quaker abolitionist, who helped them escape.

At an early age Henry showed the fire and zeal that would characterize his political activity later in life. As a child in New York, where the family moved late in 1825, he daily carried a knife on his way to African Free School No. 1, which he began attending in 1826. Upon returning to New York from Washington, D.C., as a ship's cook in 1829 he learned that his family had been forced to flee slave catchers Garnet obtained a large knife intending to pursue ...

Article

Joe M. Richardson

Jonathan C. Gibbs was born free in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, the son of Maria Jackson and Jonathan C. Gibbs, a Methodist minister. He learned carpentry as a youth and followed that trade until the Presbyterian Assembly helped him enroll at Dartmouth College in 1848. Gibbs, who was one of only two black students at Dartmouth, claimed that he had been rejected by eighteen colleges before being accepted. After graduating from Dartmouth in 1852 he attended the Princeton Theological Seminary. He was ordained as a Presbyterian minister and pastored churches in Troy, New York, and in Philadelphia. While in New York Gibbs campaigned for the extension of black suffrage in the state. When he moved to Philadelphia in 1859 he became prominent in the local Underground Railroad. During the Civil War he joined the freedmen s relief efforts campaigned against segregated city streetcars encouraged black enlistments in the ...

Article

Benjamin A. Jackson

Presbyterian minister, clinical and counseling psychologist, and educator, was born in Goldsboro, North Carolina, to Edmund Taylor Gordon, a physician, and Mabel Ellison Gordon, a schoolteacher. At the time of his birth and during Gordon's early life there, Goldsboro, a small city in eastern North Carolina, was typical of southern locales, with a pattern of racial segregation and racial prejudice. Despite the segregation that he experienced, Gordon grew up in privileged circumstances. His parents, both educated professionals, were firmly ensconced members of the black upper middle class.

After completing high school in Goldsboro, Gordon attended Howard University in Washington, D.C. During his early college years Howard University suspended Gordon for a semester for not making proper academic progress. When he returned, he was lucky enough to find a mentor in the person of Professor Alain Locke the noted black philosopher and scholar who was ...

Article

Henry Warner Bowden

Francis James Grimké was born near Charleston, South Carolina, the son of Henry Grimké, a planter, and Nancy Weston, a mulatto slave. As the second son of an illegitimate dalliance that was familiar to plantations such as Caneacres, young Grimké inherited his mother's status as servant. During the Civil War his white half brother sold him to a Confederate officer whom Grimké accompanied until the end of that conflict. The end of the war brought his manumission, and a benefactor from the Freedmen's Aid Society sent him to study at Lincoln University in Chester County, Pennsylvania.

Hard work and natural talent brought Grimké recognition on the campus. A newspaper account of the young scholar's outstanding record also attracted attention from his white aunts, Angelina Emily Grimké and Sarah Moore Grimké who had been deeply involved in antislavery activities After learning of the existence of a previously ...

Article

Henry Warner Bowden

Presbyterian minister and civil rights activist, was born near Charleston, South Carolina, the son of Henry Grimké, a planter, and Nancy Weston, a biracial slave. As the second son of an unrecognized dalliance that was familiar to plantations such as Caneacres, young Grimké inherited his mother's status as servant. During the Civil War his white half brother sold him to a Confederate officer whom Grimké accompanied until the end of that conflict. The end of the war brought his manumission, and a benefactor from the Freedmen's Aid Society sent him to study at Lincoln University in Chester County, Pennsylvania.

Hard work and natural talent brought Grimké recognition on the campus. A newspaper account of the young scholar's outstanding record also attracted attention from his white aunts, Angelina Emily Grimké and Sarah Moore Grimké who had been deeply involved in antislavery activities After learning of the existence of ...

Article

Charles Orson Cook

civil rights advocate and longtime pastor of the Fifteenth Street Presbyterian Church in Washington, D.C. Francis James Grimké was born near Charleston, South Carolina, on 4 November 1850. He and his brothers, Archibald and John, were the children of a slave mother, Nancy Weston, and a wealthy white planter father, Henry Grimké. Their white aunts, Angelina and Sarah Grimké, were famous abolitionists who had left Charleston several years before to campaign against slavery and in favor of women's rights. When Francis's father died in 1852, the boy was placed under the care of his white half-brother, who eventually sold Francis to a Confederate officer. At the end of the Civil War he and his brother Archibald went north to enter Lincoln University in Pennsylvania. The other brother, John, settled in Florida, where he remained in obscurity for the rest of his life.

Quite by chance Angelina ...

Article

Claude Hargrove

Presbyterian minister and civil rights advocate, was born on 13 June 1908 to Albert and Annie Lee Hawkins in the Bronx, New York. He attended public schools in New York and, after graduating from high school around 1935, Hawkins enrolled in Bloomfield College in New Jersey, an affiliate of the northern Presbyterian Church. The Presbyterian Church founded Bloomfield College in Newark in 1868 as a German Theological Seminary for German-speaking ministers. The College moved to Bloomfield in 1872 and by 1923 became a four-year college with approximately 1,300 full-time students. Hawkins graduated magna cum laude from Bloomfield with a Bachelor of Arts degree in 1936. At age thirty-five, in 1938, Hawkins earned a Bachelor of Divinity from Union Theological Seminary in New York City. Presbyterians had founded Union Theological Seminary in 1836 and admitted students from a wide range of Protestant sects. Since 1910 the ...

Article

Mathias Hanses

classicist, Congregationalist preacher, and the first African American to earn a Ph.D. at the University of Pennsylvania, was born in Huntsville, Alabama, the youngest child of Henry Moore and his second wife Rebecca (née Beasley). Louis would in his early years have witnessed the black community's enthusiasm toward such new freedoms as political participation. At the same time, he suffered the hardships besetting his family of twenty-eight in the transforming Deep South. Before Louis turned ten years old, his home state's race relations started slipping toward their “nadir.” Alabama endured Ku Klux Klan terrorism and voter intimidation; a “Redeemer” government rose to power in 1874 as black workers and sharecroppers fell into economic dependency on their former owners; and in 1876 federal Reconstruction efforts were sacrificed to political deal making which further impeded blacks access to polls and lecterns Still increasing numbers of African Americans came to ...

Article

Cassandra Veney

minister and founder of Operation Crossroads Africa, was born in Knoxville, Tennessee, one of six children of Henry John Robinson, a slaughterhouse laborer, and Willie Bell Banks a washerwoman Robinson grew up in abject poverty in a section of town called the Bottoms where poor blacks and whites lived Because of his father s frequent periods of unemployment and his mother s failing health the Robinson family could not escape the reality of poverty and segregation in the Jim Crow South Those already at the bottom of the economic pile were also denied access to the educational opportunities that might otherwise have helped them to escape poverty Given the dire circumstances in which the family lived Robinson had a difficult time accepting the strong religious convictions of his father who was a member of a sanctified church and spent much of his free time there As his ...

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Diane Savage McLaughlin

was born into slavery to Frances and William Savage of Henderson, Louisiana. John and his parents were manumitted shortly before the outbreak of the Civil War, possibly through the efforts of his father to purchase the family, and began an arduous journey to Liberia searching for a better future. Savage received his elementary education in Sierra Leone. When malaria claimed the lives of both his parents, he returned to the United States with a group of orphaned youths, accompanied by Presbyterian missionaries, aboard the ship Thomas Pope. They arrived in New York City on 12 June 1872. In 1873, with financial assistance from the Presbyterian Synod, he entered Lincoln University in Chester County, Pennsylvania, and in 1879 earned an AB degree. He married Melvina Baldwin in 1879, and the couple would have four children.

In 1882 Savage earned a bachelor s degree in sacred theology ...