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Geoffrey Roper

Egyptian Muslim theologian, modernist, and reformer, was born in the Gharbiya Province of Lower Egypt, the son of ʿAbduh ibn Hasan Khayr Allah, a peasant farmer, and his wife, who was descended from the Bani ʿAdl clan. He grew up in the village of Mahallat Nasr and received a traditional education, learning the Qurʾan by heart. In 1862 he was sent to the madrasa (Islamic college) in Tanta. There, he perfected his Qurʾan recitation and started to learn Arabic grammar, by the then normal method of memorizing texts and commentaries without explanation from his teachers.

Reacting against this, according to his own account, he ran away from the college and returned to his village, intending to become a peasant rather than a scholar. In this condition he married in 1865 at the age of sixteen But after various vicissitudes he resorted to his great uncle Shaykh Darwish Khadr who ...

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John G. Turner

Latter-day Saint elder and Utah pioneer, was born in northern Maryland to Andrew Abel and Delila Williams. Abel left the area as a young man. Little is known of his early life; it is unclear whether he was born enslaved or free. One later census identified Abel as a “quadroon,” but others listed him as “Black” or “Mulatto.”

In 1832, Abel was baptized into the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and soon gathered with the Mormons in Kirtland, Ohio. In 1836, he was ordained to the church's Melchizedek or higher priesthood, making him one of a very small number of African American men to “hold the priesthood” during the church's early years. An expectation for all righteous adult male members of the church, priesthood meant the possibility of leadership positions and the authority to perform ordinances. In December 1836 Abel had become a ...

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Mary T. Henry

bishop, civil rights leader, and educator, was born in Columbia, South Carolina, to Rev. Eugene Avery Adams and Charity Nash Adams. He and his three siblings, Avery, Charity, and Lucy Rose, were raised in a spiritual and intellectually stimulating home. His father, an African Methodist Episcopal (AME) minister and social activist, in the 1920s organized the first African American bank in Columbia and the first modern statewide civil rights organization in South Carolina. None of these activities went unnoticed by young John and they helped to define his later focus and commitments. Adams was educated in the segregated Columbia school system and graduated from Booker T. Washington High School. His undergraduate work was completed at Johnson C. Smith University in Charlotte, North Carolina, where he earned an AB degree in History in 1947 After studying at Boston University School of Theology he received a bachelor of ...

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philosopher, pioneer of Islamic reformist thought, pan-Islamic nationalist as well as a staunch opponent of British penetration in the East, also known as al-Asadaabadi and al-Husayni, Afghani, was born in October/November 1839 in the Iranian village of Asadaabad. However, he endeavored to hide his origins so as to conceal his Shiite identity. It was with this in mind that he assumed the surname al-Afghani (of Afghan origin).

His father, Sayyid Safdar, is said to have been a modest farmer, but a learned Muslim. From the age of five to ten, Afghani was apparently educated at home, focusing on Arabic and the Qurʾan. Thereafter, he was sent to school in Qazvin and later Tehran, where he received the standard Shiite education.

After several years of study in the holy city of Najaf, Afghani moved to India in approximately 1855 where he first encountered British colonialism By the time he reached ...

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Nathan Zook

minister, civil rights leader, and member of the Louisiana House of Representatives, was born Avery Caesar Alexander in the town of Houma in Terrebonne Parish, Louisiana, to a family of sharecroppers. The names of his parents are not known. Seventeen years later, his family moved to New Orleans. Avery Alexander maintained an active life there and in Baton Rouge for the next seventy-two years.

Prior to his election to the Louisiana legislature, Alexander was employed as a longshoreman. At the same time, he pursued an education by taking night courses, receiving his high school diploma from Gilbert Academy in 1939. He became politically active by working as a labor union operative for a longshoreman's union, Local 1419. He also held the occupations of real estate broker and insurance agent.

Alexander received a degree in theology from Union Baptist Theological Seminary and became an ordained Baptist minister ...

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Kate Tuttle

In an era when African Americans saw many of the gains of Reconstruction overturned, one former delegate to the Republican National Convention created a town that he hoped would serve as a living model for black self-reliance. Upon his retirement from the army in 1906, Lieutenant Colonel Allensworth who had been born a slave in Louisville, Kentucky, began seeking residents for an all-black town in his adopted state of California. Advertising in black newspapers and in his own newsletter, Allensworth appealed to black veterans to realize their dream “to have a home, classic, beautiful, with perfect congenial environment.” In this vision, Allensworth was inspired by the message of African American educator Booker T. Washington that African Americans should “get a bank account. Get a home. … Get some property.”

By 1912 more than one hundred people had settled in Allensworth California which was located on farmland leased ...

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Peter Wallenstein

educator and civil rights litigant, was born in Norfolk, Virginia, the son of William Henry “Sonnie” Alston, a drayman, and Mary Elizabeth “Lizzie” Smith, a laundress. The Alstons owned their home, and Melvin grew up in a middle-class environment. After attending Norfolk's segregated black public schools and graduating from Booker T. Washington High School, he graduated in 1935 from Virginia State College, where he was honored for his debating and for excellence in scholarship. Following graduation he began teaching math at Booker T. Washington High School. Beginning in 1937 he served as president of the Norfolk Teachers Association, and he also held local leadership positions in the Young Men's Christian Association and the First Calvary Baptist Church.

Alston played a key role in an effort by black teachers in the Norfolk city public schools to challenge racial discrimination in their salaries. In 1937 the Virginia Teachers Association VTA and ...

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born on 22 March 1962 in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic. Her mother was Ana Almánzar, a saleswoman, and her father, the journalist Fermín Arias Belliard, was well known for his humorous political column “Bocadillo” (A Snack) published from the 1970s through the 1990s in different newspapers throughout the country (La Información, El Sol, El Nacional, and El Siglo), and his satirical political radio show Con Pique y Sin Pique (With or Without Rage). Arias has three daughters from her first marriage to Rafael Castillo in August 1982 (Paloma, Lucero, and Violeta). This marriage ended in February 2002; she wed the American scholar Christopher McGrath, in August 2008.

Aurora Arias grew up surrounded by the political and social instability that followed the assassination on 31 May 1961 of the dictator Rafael Leónidas Trujillo Within a few years of the formal end of the ...

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Benjamin William Arnett, Jr., was born in Brownsville, Pennsylvania. He was entirely self-taught. After working as a waiter and a dockworker, he became certified as a teacher in Brownsville in 1864, but he moved to Washington, D.C., and decided to become a minister in the African Methodist Episcopal Church (AME). After receiving his license to preach in 1865, he was assigned his first pastorate in 1867 in Walnut Hills, Ohio, near Cincinnati; Arnett also taught school there. First ordained as a deacon in the AME church in 1868, he became an elder in 1870. He served the AME General Conference as its secretary in 1876 and its financial secretary in 1880. In addition, he established close connections to the AME church's center for learning, Wilberforce University in Ohio.

During the American Civil War (1861–1865 Arnett had worked with Frederick Douglass s National ...

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Sonia Abun-Nasr

pastor and missionary, was born around 1834 in Akuropon, the capital of Akuapem, north of Accra in present-day Ghana. The son of Owusu Akyem, a chief of the royal Asona clan, he possessed high social status but was excluded from succession to political posts because of the matrilineal structure of Akan societies. He shared this fate with all so-called Akan princes, who were among the first inhabitants of the Gold Coast to convert to Christianity and receive a European education, thereby creating a role for themselves as a new elitist avant-garde in precolonial Ghanaian societies.

From childhood, Asante’s life was intertwined with the activities of the protestant Basel Mission, forerunner of the Presbyterian Church of Ghana, which established itself in Akuapem during the 1830s. He was one of the first pupils to enter the mission school in Akuropon in 1844 and was baptized David at Christmas 1847 again as ...

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Alessandra Vianello

charismatic Islamic leader whose influence spread from Somalia to the whole of East Africa and beyond. His full name was Aways Mohammed al-Qadiri.

He was born in Brava a coastal town in Southern Somalia the son of Mohammed Mahadh Bashir and Faduma Barow The family had humble origins some Italian sources claim that the father or one of his immediate forebears had been a freedman of the Tunni the Somali clan settled in and around Brava In the course of his life Sheikh Aways married several times Five of his wives Bay Aliow bint Bobo Doyo bint Mahadh Abdallah Amo bint Bana Tahir Bora Fatima bint Mohammed Muhyiddin and Hawa Shego are mentioned in the Civil Register of the Court of Brava Of his children a daughter Dede was immortalized in verse by the judge and scholar Abd al Aziz al Amawi who probably married her and a son Shaʾir ...

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Charles C. Stewart

Mauritanian religious leader and founder of a school, was the grandson of his namesake known as “Sidiyya the Elder” (Sidiyya al-Kabir) and was raised by his uncles in the scholarly setting of his father and grandfather’s camps in southwestern Mauritania. His father, Sidi Muhammad, died in 1869 during a cholera outbreak when Baba was seven years old only one year after the death of Sidiyya al Kabir This was a moment when his lineage the Ntisha it was one of the dominant ones within the larger Awlad Abyiri a clerical lineage group that during his grandfather s time had risen to be among the most influential political forces in the region of Trarza southwestern Mauritania Sidiyya the Elder had spent a dozen years in the Kunta campus of the Azaouad adjacent to Timbuktu in the early nineteenth century and he brought back to the village that he founded at ...

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Darryl E. Brock

was born in the village of Guaynabo, Puerto Rico, to a poor family on 23 February 1822. Born out of wedlock, he took his working-class mother’s last name, Baldorioty, and soon moved with her to San Juan. The noted Puerto Rican historian Cayetano Coll y Toste wrote of Baldorioty exhibiting a “happy conjunction” of Indian, Negro, and white blood. When the boy’s father, Don Juan de Castro of Cabo Rojo, rather tardily appeared to acquaint himself and change his son’s residence, the priest and benefactor Rufo Manuel Fernández advised against this, as young Román had already shown great scholarly promise.

Studying at El Colegio Seminario Conciliar Idelfonso, the island’s leading institution, and influenced by the renowned educator Rafael Cordero, Baldorioty secured a scholarship in 1846 to study physics and mathematical sciences at the University of Madrid There with the professor José Gualberto Padilla he founded La Sociedad de ...

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Lisa Earl Castillo

also known as Rodolfo Manoel Martins de Andrade, was an important figure in the history of Candomblé, an Afro-Brazilian religion. Born in Yorubaland, in what is now northwestern Nigeria, Bamboxê Obitikô was a devotee of the deity Xangô and a babalawo, or Ifá diviner. He is said to have been responsible for making certain adaptions to the erindilogun divination technique that are still widely used in Afro-Brazilian religions.

Until recently, the only information about Bamboxê Obitikô’s life came from oral tradition. Newly uncovered archival evidence, however, sheds light on his remarkable life. His first years in Brazil were spent as the slave of Manoel Martins de Andrade (d. 1871), a Portuguese subject with several townhouses in the northeastern city of Salvador da Bahia, as well as a small plantation and a number of other slaves. “Rodolfo Nagô” was baptized in December 1850 which suggests that he had ...

Article

was born to free black parents in Santiago de Cuba, in the province of Oriente. Quintín Bandera, as he was commonly known, enlisted as a private in the Cuban Rebel Army, in 1868, just as the anticolonial movement against Spain erupted into a full-scale insurgency, known as the Ten Years’ War (1868–1878). He eventually rose to the rank of general. In 1897, during the Cuban War of Independence (1895–1898), the general was court-martialed and stripped of his rank, an ominous precursor of the shortcomings of Cuba’s colorblind nationalist discourse. So frustrated were Bandera and other blacks with the island’s post-revolutionary political course that he led a group of veteran officers and soldiers in an uprising against then president Tomás Estrada Palma in what was known as the 1906 Constitutional Revolution Shortly after this Bandera was brutally killed by rural guardsmen Today Bandera is ...

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Sheila T. Gregory

radio and television pioneer, Masonic Christian Order founder, ordained Baptist minister, lawyer, community advocate, and business leader, was born on a sharecroppers' farm in Geneva, Kentucky, the son of Richard and Clara Banks, both tenant farmers. In June 1922 Banks graduated from the Lincoln Institute of Kentucky and moved to Detroit, Michigan, where he secured a job at the Dodge automobile main plant. He graduated from Wayne State University in 1926 and the Detroit College of Law in 1929. He briefly opened a criminal law practice, but after two years he discontinued his criminal work and invested in property during the Depression, while helping elect liberal Democrat and future Supreme Court justice Frank Murphy as Detroit's mayor in 1930.

In 1931 Banks was the head of the International Labor Defense League ILDL a legal organization known for defending numerous labor unions which at that time were ...

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María Teresa Cortés Zavala

(who during the regime change in Puerto Rico in 1898 led the Republican Party), was born on 7 September or 27 July 1857 in the town of Bayamón, located in the north central area of the island of Puerto Rico. Celso Barbosa was the eldest son of Hermógenes Barbosa, a bricklayer, and Carmen Alcalá. The Barbosa family was part of a wave of immigration to Puerto Rico in the first half of the nineteenth century. Hermógenes Barbosa was descended from a group of Dominican exiles who left Santo Domingo during the Franco-Haitian occupation. They were black people who were artisans, farmers, and ranchers. His mother, although born on the island, belonged to a second generation of Venezuelans living in Puerto Rico who witnessed their economic situation diminish, and were compelled to express their reformist position at a time of economic and political crisis.

The Barbosa Alcalá family was part of ...

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Florence M. Coleman

slave, Civil War soldier, politician, and Baptist minister, was born Peter Barnabas Barrow, a Virginia slave. The month and day of his birth are unknown. It is believed that he was born near Petersburg, Virginia, and may have been taken to Mississippi or Alabama with his owner. In 1864 Barrow joined Company A, 66th U.S. Colored Infantry and in 1865 became a sergeant. A year later Barrow was discharged because of an injury he received. He went on to teach school at Vicksburg, Mississippi.

Barrow, who was most likely self-educated, served as a member of the Mississippi House of Representatives for Warren County, Mississippi, from 1870 to 1871. From 1872 to 1875 he served in the Mississippi State Senate. He migrated to Spokane, Washington, in 1889 and settled there in the city s African American community Barrow and other African Americans were determined to thrive by establishing ...

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Joanne H. Edey-Rhodes

educator, industrial school founder, and Episcopal Church school field secretary, was born in Hurtsboro, Russell County, Alabama, one of thirteen children of former slaves, Jeanetta (Redden) and Augustus Battle Sr.

Battle's parents sent him to the district school when he was eight years old. He had not progressed far in his education when, at the age of sixteen, he joined his older brother, Augustus Aaron Battle Jr., and two sisters at Talladega College in Talladega, Alabama. Only prepared to enter the third grade, he attended class with eight-year-olds. Wallace was so determined to move forward in his education that he completed three grades in one year. He remained in attendance at Talladega College from 1889 to 1898 In the later years of his college preparatory studies there he taught during the summers at Duke Station Calhoun County Alabama He also became involved with teaching in Mission Sunday ...

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Tunisian author, teacher, reformer, jurisconsult, was born in Tunis in March 1840. His mother was the daughter of Mahmoud Khouja, a minister of Ahmed Bey. His father, Mustapha Ben Mohamed Bayram Ath Thalith III, was a wealthy landowner and merchant from a family of scientists and administrators. When he died in Tunis in 1863, he left his son symbolic capital comprising precious documents, land, properties, funds, merchandise, and social contacts.

Bayram s education was centered both in the family s extensive library and in the rich Tunisian cultural milieu From an early age he studied the Qurʾan hadith and Arabic He studied with eminent professors from the Zeytouna University such as Bayram que Mustapha Bayram Ahmed Mohamed Mouaya Ben Tahar Mohamed Achour and others receiving excellent training in many subjects both Islamic and non Islamic His family was well placed in the social and intellectual circles of Tunis ...