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 ...
Charles C. Stewart
Evelyn Brooks Higginbotham
As a national leader in education at age twenty-one, Nannie Helen Burroughs was catapulted to fame after presenting the speech “How the Sisters Are Hindered from Helping” at the annual conference of the National Baptist Convention (NBC) in Richmond, Virginia, in 1900. Her outspoken eloquence articulated the righteous discontent of women in the black Baptist church and served as a catalyst for the formation of the largest black women’s organization in America—the Woman’s Convention Auxiliary to the NBC. Some called her an upstart because she led the organization in the struggle for women’s rights, antilynching laws, desegregation, and industrial education for black women and girls. Most people, however, considered her an organizational genius. At the helm of the National Baptist Woman’s Convention for more than six decades, Burroughs remained a tireless and intrepid champion of black pride and women’s rights.
Burroughs was born in Orange, Virginia to John ...
Alonford James Robinson
Francis Cardozo was born free in Charleston, South Carolina, to prominent Jewish businessman and economist Isaac N. Cardozo and a free African American woman whose name is unknown. Cardozo was trained as a carpenter, but at age twenty-one he studied for the ministry at the University of Glasgow in Scotland and at seminaries in Edinburgh, Scotland, and London, England. He won awards for his mastery of Greek and Latin. Cardozo returned to the United States as minister of Temple Street Congregational Church in New Haven, Connecticut. In 1865, as a member of the American Missionary Association, he became principal of the Saxton School in Charleston. In 1866 he helped establish and became superintendent of the Avery Normal Institute, a school in Charleston to train African American teachers.
In 1868 Cardozo became involved in politics acting as a delegate to the South Carolina state constitutional convention As secretary ...
Timothy P. McCarthy
minister, educator, and politician, was born in Charleston, South Carolina, the son of a free black woman (name unknown) and a Jewish father. It is uncertain whether Cardozo's father was Jacob N. Cardozo, the prominent economist and editor of an anti-nullification newspaper in Charleston during the 1830s, or his lesser-known brother, Isaac Cardozo, a weigher in the city's customhouse. Born free at a time when slavery dominated southern life, Cardozo enjoyed a childhood of relative privilege among Charleston's antebellum free black community. Between the ages of five and twelve he attended a school for free blacks, then he spent five years as a carpenter's apprentice and four more as a journeyman. In 1858 Cardozo used his savings to travel to Scotland, where he studied at the University of Glasgow, graduating with distinction in 1861 As the Civil War erupted at home he remained in Europe to study ...
Linda M. Perkins
educator, civic and religious leader, and feminist, was born a slave in Washington, D.C., the daughter of Lucy Jackson. Her father's name and the details of her early childhood are unknown. However, by the time she was age ten, her aunt Sarah Orr Clark had purchased her freedom, and Jackson went to live with relatives in New Bedford, Massachusetts. By 1851 she and her relatives had moved to Newport, Rhode Island, where Jackson was employed as a domestic by George Henry Calvert, a descendant of Lord Baltimore, the settler of Maryland. Jackson's salary enabled her to afford one hour of private tutoring three times a week. Near the end of her six-year stay with the Calverts, she briefly attended the segregated public schools of Newport. In 1859 Jackson enrolled at the Rhode Island State Normal School in Bristol In addition to the normal course she also studied ...
Lisa Clayton Robinson
Of her college experience, Frances (Fanny) Jackson Coppin remembered: “I never rose to recite in my classes at Oberlin but I felt that I had the honor of the whole African race upon my shoulders. I felt that, should I fail, it would be ascribed to the fact that I was colored.” This describes a burden that many blacks still carry 150 years later—the suspicion that for their white peers, they somehow represent the entire race. Despite this pressure, however, Coppin shone at Oberlin College in Ohio, and she went on to shine as a teacher, school principal, and activist throughout the next fifty years.
Coppin was born a slave in Washington, D.C. the daughter of a slave mother and a white father An aunt purchased Coppin s freedom when she was twelve years old and sent her to live with another aunt in New Bedford Massachusetts They moved ...
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 ...
Joe M. Richardson
clergyman, educator, and politician, 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 went on to pastor 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 freed people s relief efforts campaigned against segregated ...
Jesuit priest and university president, was born in Jones County, Georgia, the son of Michael Morris Healy, an Irish American planter, and Eliza Clark, an African American woman he had purchased. The senior Healy deserted from the British army in Canada during the War of 1812 and by 1818 had made his way to rural Georgia, where he settled, speculated in land, and acquired a sizable plantation and numerous slaves. Healy acknowledged Eliza as “my trusty woman” in his will, which provided that she be paid an annuity, transported to a free state, and “not bartered or sold or disposed of in any way” should he predecease her. Healy also acknowledged his nine children by Eliza, although by state law they were slaves he owned, and he arranged for them to leave Georgia and move to the North, where they would become free.
After first sending his older ...
Sara Graves Wheeler
university president and clergyman, was born in Paris, Henry County, Tennessee, the son of the Reverend Wyatt Johnson, a stationary engine operator in a mill, and Caroline Freeman. Johnson received his grammar school education in Paris, but in 1903 he enrolled in the Academy of the Roger Williams University in Nashville, Tennessee. The school burned in 1905, so Johnson finished the semester at the Howe Institute in Memphis. In the fall of that year, he moved to Atlanta to finish high school in the preparatory department of Atlanta Baptist College (renamed Morehouse College in 1913). There he completed a bachelor's degree in 1911. While at Atlanta Baptist, Johnson played varsity football and tennis, sang in various groups, and began his long career as a public speaker on the debating team.
After graduating, Johnson became an English instructor at his alma mater. For the 1912 ...
Jason Philip Miller
clergyman and bishop, was born in Greensboro, North Carolina, to Sidney Dallas Jones and Jane Holley. He attended local schools and in 1895 received a Bachelor of Arts degree from Greensboro's Bennett College (years before it became an all-women's institution).
Jones wished to pursue a religious life, and in 1891 he took up a position as a preacher at a church in Leaksville, North Carolina. A year later, he was ordained as a minister in the Methodist Episcopal (ME) church, and was assigned to Reidsville, where in 1896 he rose to the rank of church Elder. Meanwhile, having taken his B.A. from Bennett, he continued his education, first attending Gammon Theological Seminary in Atlanta, where he received a Bachelor of Divinity degree in 1897. A year later, he was back at Bennett College, from which he earned a Master of Divinity degree in 1898.
After a ...
Mary Reginald Gerdes
educator and founder of both the oldest Catholic school for African Americans and the first order of African American nuns in the United States, the Oblate Sisters of Providence. The place and date of Lange's birth are unknown. Oral tradition says that she was born on the western part of the island of St. Domingue (now Haiti). Born Elizabeth Lange, she was the offspring of mixed parentage and was a free mulatto. Her mother was Annette Lange her father s name is unknown The revolution on the isle of St Domingue coupled with the Napoleonic revolution forced the emigration of many natives both black and white refugees fled to other parts of the Western Hemisphere Lange arrived in the United States educated refined and fluent in French When she arrived on the shores of Maryland she encountered major problems She was a free person of color in a ...
Yolanda L. Watson Spiva
educator and college president, was born Shirley Ann Redd in a coal mining camp in Winding Gulf, West Virginia, and largely reared by her father, Robert F. Redd, a high school teacher at Byrd Prilliman High School in the segregated school system, her grandmother Lottie Bell Redd, her great grandmother Eliza Yates, her paternal uncle “Uncle Bud” and another uncle, “Uncle Bruss.” She did not learn that Uncle Bruss was not really related to her by kinship, but instead by friendship and boarding ties, until she was an adult. All of these relatives resided together in Shirley's grandmother's home, a “company house” that she had acquired following the work-related death of her husband. Shirley's mother, Thelma Biggers Redd was born in Talcott West Virginia and worked as a housekeeper in the New York New Jersey area Shirley s parents divorced when she was ...
Randal Maurice Jelks
educator and clergyman, was born Benjamin Elijah Mays in Greenwood County, South Carolina, the youngest of eight children of Hezekiah Mays and Louvenia Carter, both tenant farmers who had been born in slavery. Mays's earliest memory was of the 1898 Phoenix riot in Greenwood County, which was sparked by internecine battles for control of the Democratic Party and white efforts to disfranchise African Americans. Mays, who was only four at the time, recalled a mob riding with guns and making his father kowtow to save his life. He also remembered the problems his parents had faced living as tenant farmers in the cotton economy of South Carolina.
Three things about his formative years were significant to Mays The first was his father s abuse of alcohol He recalled that his father drank even near the church and he remembered the fights between his parents when his father was ...
Benjamin Mays was born in Ninety-Six, South Carolina, the son of Hezekiah and Louvenia Carter Mays, both former slaves. After attending Virginia Union University in Richmond, Virginia, he transferred to Bates College in Maine, earning a bachelor's degree in 1920. The following year he became ordained a Baptist minister. He then attended the University of Chicago's Divinity School, earning a master's degree in 1925 and a Ph.D. ten years later. In 1934 Mays assumed the deanship of Howard University's school of religion where he revitalized a moribund program. In six years under Mays' administration, enrollment increased, the quality of the faculty improved, and the library grew. In addition, the school achieved the American Association of Theological Schools' highest rating.
In 1940 Mays became the president of Morehouse College in Atlanta, Georgia, serving in that position until 1967 Although he enhanced the quality of ...
Long recognized as a leading nineteenth-century Christian activist and theologian, Daniel Payne's literary achievements are varied and equally important. From his childhood in Charleston, South Carolina, where he was born to free and deeply religious parents, through his long ministry with the African Methodist Episcopal (AME) Church and eventual presidency of Wilberforce University, Payne pursued a rigorous program of self-directed study. He began to write and teach at an early age, starting his first school in Charleston in 1829 when he was only nineteen years old, and teaching there until 1835, when the South Carolina legislature made it illegal to teach slaves to read or write. Forced to close his school, Payne moved to the North, where he published a collection of poetry in 1850. In The Pleasures and Other Miscellaneous Poems, Payne included a poem heralding the emancipation of the West Indies in 1838 ...
Zachery R. Williams
Daniel Alexander Payne was born to free black parents in Charleston, South Carolina. A prominent minister in the African Methodist Episcopal (AME) Church, Payne was influential in standardizing worship services and improving the quality of religious education. He also wrote a comprehensive history of the AME Church. Payne was elected bishop at the church's general conference in 1852, an event that the author and social critic Benjamin Brawley declared was as significant as the 1816 election of the church's first bishop, Richard Allen. Payne expanded the church's missionary programs, revamped its publications, and spearheaded the establishment of numerous congregations. On 10 March 1863 Payne persuaded the AME Church to purchase Wilberforce University, in Wilberforce, Ohio, for ten thousand dollars. The institution had been founded by the Methodist Episcopal Church in 1856 as a school for young African American men and women Shortly after the purchase Payne was ...
Daniel Alexander Payne was born in Charleston, South Carolina, to London Payne, who was of mixed British and African descent, and Martha Payne, who was of mixed Native American and African descent. Both were free blacks, and they placed great importance on Payne's early education. They died before he was ten years old, leaving him to the care of relatives. He continued his education at a school for free blacks in Charleston and thereafter on his own while apprenticed to artisans in several different fields. He later received private tutoring in Greek and Latin.
At the age of seventeen, Payne opened his own school in Charleston with a handful of students. The school grew quickly, and in addition to the daytime curriculum, he taught slaves at night. But in 1834 South Carolina outlawed the education of African Americans and Payne was forced to close the school ...
Elizabeth Zoe Vicary
minister and educator, was born in Charleston, South Carolina, the son of London Payne, a free African American, and Martha (maiden name unknown), a Catawba Indian, both of whom died in the early 1820s. For two years he attended the Minor's Moralist Society School; he then continued his education with a tutor and through extensive independent reading. He joined the Methodist Episcopal Church in 1826.
Payne established a school for blacks in 1828 but closed it in 1834 when South Carolina outlawed education for slaves. Moving to Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, in 1835, Payne studied on a scholarship at the Lutheran Theological Seminary, but failing eyesight forced him to leave before graduation. He was licensed to preach in 1837 and ordained in 1839, thus becoming the first African American minister in the Franckean Evangelical Lutheran Synod. In 1840 he opened a second school for African Americans ...
Hiram Revels, the son of former slaves, was born in Fayetteville, North Carolina. He studied at several seminaries in Indiana and Ohio before becoming a minister in the African Methodist Episcopal Church (AME). During the American Civil War Revels helped to organize African American regiments in Maryland and ...