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Jason Philip Miller

mayor and U.S. Congressman, was born in tiny Waxahachie, Texas, into a family of preachers. He came of age in a public housing development near Wichita Falls, Texas, and attended the public schools there. For a time, he wished to pursue a life as a professional football player, but an injury prevented him from seeing that dream to fulfillment. Instead, he attended Texas A&M, from which he graduated in 1968. Falling back onto what was to some large degree the family business, Cleaver earned his Master of Divinity degree from St. Paul School of Theology in Kansas City, Missouri. There, at the behest of Ralph Abernathy he established a chapter of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference He was assigned to St James Church and under his guidance the tiny inner city congregation fewer than thirty regular attendees when Cleaver took over soon blossomed into the one of ...


Daniel Donaghy

pastor, civil rights activist, and U.S. congressman. Walter Edward Fauntroy was the fourth of seven children born in Washington, D.C., to William T. Fauntroy Sr., a U.S. Patent Office clerk, and Ethel Fauntroy, a homemaker. As a boy, Fauntroy became an active member of the New Bethel Baptist Church; the church gave Fauntroy sanctuary against the poverty and crime of secular Washington. As a high school student, Fauntroy experienced his first call to the ministry. After Fauntroy graduated second in his class from Dunbar High School in 1952, some of the members of New Bethel Baptist Church presented him with enough money to pay for his first year at Virginia Union University, where he graduated with honors in 1955 before going on to earn a divinity degree from Yale University.

While at Virginia Union, Fauntroy met the future civil rights activist Martin Luther King ...


Raymond Pierre Hylton

legislator, pastor, and civil rights activist, was born in Washington, D.C., the son of William Thomas Fauntroy and Ethel Vines Fauntroy. His father worked in the U.S. Patent Office. Upon graduating from Dunbar High School in 1952, Fauntroy entered Virginia Union University in Richmond, Virginia. While there he received strong support and encouragement from his pastor, the Reverend Charles David Foster, and he graduated from Virginia Union in 1955 with a BA in History. He received a scholarship to attend Yale University Divinity School, where he earned a bachelor of divinity degree in 1958. In 1959 when his longtime mentor the Reverend Foster died, Fauntroy was named to succeed him as pastor at New Bethel Baptist Church. He married Dorothy Simms on August 3, 1957, and the couple had a son, Marvin Keith, and a daughter, Melissa Alice.

During his ...


LaVerne Gray

minister, politician, educator, and writer. After serving as a U.S. representative from New York, Flake became the minister and leader of New York City's largest African American church, the Greater Allen African Methodist Episcopal Cathedral in Queens. He elevated the membership to over eighteen thousand and assisted the economic growth of the church through concentrated efforts in community development. In 2002 Flake became president of Wilberforce University, one the oldest historically black colleges, in Ohio. He worked in the private, educational, and government sectors while simultaneously serving in the church.

Floyd Harold Flake was born in Los Angeles, the third of thirteen children born to Robert Flake, a janitor, and Rosie Lee Flake a homemaker When Flake was still small the family relocated to Houston Texas Growing up Flake was resourceful and his parents stressed a strong work ethic He was always working delivering ...


Sholomo B. Levy

minister, U.S. Congressman, educator, and business executive, was born in Los Angeles, California, the eighth of thirteen children of Robert Flake Sr., a janitor, and Rosie Lee Johnson. Shortly after Floyd's birth, the family moved into a two-bedroom home in Houston, Texas. The roots of many of Floyd's political beliefs can be traced to his southern upbringing: his family was poor, but proud; racism abounded, but faith and optimism ruled the Flake home.

Floyd s early education took place in segregated poorly equipped schools but his teachers were dedicated and took a stern interest in his academic development One teacher cared enough to make sure that Floyd spent much of his free time involved in youth programs at her African Methodist Episcopal AME Church After graduating from high school Flake entered Wilberforce University the nation s oldest private African American University in Ohio He ...


Born in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, William H. Gray III was the son of William H. Gray Jr., a Baptist minister and president of two Florida colleges, and Hazel Yates Gray, a high school teacher. In 1949 his father became the pastor of the large and powerful Bright Hope Baptist Church in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and moved the family north. In 1963 Gray graduated from Franklin and Marshall College and became an assistant pastor in Montclair, New Jersey. He earned a master of divinity degree from Drew Theological School in 1966, became senior minister at his church the same year, and earned a degree in theology from the Princeton Theological Seminary in 1970 As a minister Gray tried to help his poor parishioners by promoting fair housing programs He also set an important precedent by successfully suing a landlord who refused to rent an apartment to him ...


Amber Moulton-Wiseman

minister, congressman, businessman, philanthropist, was born in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, the son of William H. Gray Jr., a minister and university president, and Hazel Yates Gray, a university dean. During Gray's early childhood, his father was president of both Florida Memorial College and Florida A&M University, and his mother was dean of students at Southern University in Baton Rouge. However, the family then moved to Philadelphia in 1949. There, Gray's father took a position as pastor of the Bright Hope Baptist Church. William H. Gray Jr.'s own father had held that post since 1925.

Gray was educated in the public school system and graduated from Philadelphia's Simon Gratz High School in 1959. Upon graduation, Gray enrolled at Franklin & Marshall College in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, and pursued his joint interest in religion and politics, even taking an internship with Democratic Congressman Robert ...


Yvette Walker

politician, minister, activist, and writer. Adam Clayton Powell Jr. was born in New Haven, Connecticut, in 1908. Powell's father, Adam Clayton Powell Sr. (1865–1953), was the minister of the famous Abyssinian Baptist Church in Harlem, New York. In his autobiography Adam by Adam (1971), Powell states that his paternal grandmother, Sally, was part Cherokee and part black and that she bore a son by a white slaveholder of German descent. A former slave named Dunn took them in and raised Adam Clayton Powell Sr.

Powell Sr was actively involved in the struggle against racism he was a proponent of racial pride built on a foundation of education and hard work and he believed that the church should be a pillar of the community beliefs that he passed on to his son Adam Clayton Powell Jr recounts childhood memories of sitting on ...


Peter Wallenstein

minister and congressman, was born in New Haven, Connecticut, the son of the ReverendAdam Clayton Powell Sr. and Mattie Fletcher Shaffer. The family moved to New York City in 1909 after the senior Powell became minister of the Abyssinian Baptist Church, then located at Fortieth Street between Seventh and Eighth avenues. In 1923, at the elder Powell's urging, the church and the family joined the surge of black migration uptown to Harlem, with the church moving to 138th Street between Seventh and Lenox avenues.

Adam Powell Jr. earned an AB at Colgate University in 1930 and an AM in Religious Education at Columbia University in 1932. So light-skinned that he could pass for white, and did so for a time at Colgate, he came to identify himself as black, and, although from a comfortable background, he advocated the rights of workers.

Powell s rise to ...


Adam Clayton Powell, Jr., was born in New Haven, Connecticut, and grew up in Harlem, New York, where his father was the minister of the Abyssinian Baptist Church, one of the largest congregations in the nation. After a poor academic performance at the City College of New York, Powell attended Colgate University in Hamilton, New York. Light-skinned enough to pass as white, he did so. Upon learning that Powell was black, both the white students among whom Powell had tried to live and the black students whose ethnicity he had rejected were angered.

After graduation, Powell helped in his father's church and briefly attended Union Theological Seminary. He went on to earn a master's degree in religious education from Columbia University and continued to assist his father until 1937, when Adam Clayton Powell retired and Adam Jr became pastor of Abyssinian During this time Powell maintained ...


Michaeljulius Idani

educator, activist, ordained Baptist minister, and U.S. Congressman, was born in Chadburn, North Carolina, son of Versie B. Towns, a homemaker, and Dolphus Towns, a sharecropper. Towns had one brother, James, who passed away in 1984.

Towns's youth was spent in North Carolina, where he witnessed the continuing challenges faced by African Americans in the rural South. Wanting more for her son, Towns's mother encouraged his interest in education. In 1952 Towns graduated from West Side High School in Chadburn. He went on to attend North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University in Greensboro, North Carolina, where he graduated in 1956 with a Bachelor in Sociology degree.

After college Towns enlisted in the U.S. Army. In 1958 after being discharged from the military Towns moved to New York City and began a teaching career in the city public schools Fordham University ...


Edolphus Towns was born in Chadbourn, North Carolina. He received a bachelor's degree from North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University in 1956 and entered the U.S. Army the same year. He served until 1958 and then moved to New York, where he worked as a hospital administrator, and a professor at Medgar Evers College. In 1973 he earned a master's degree in social work from Adelphi University. In 1976 Towns began his political career, serving eight years until 1982 as Brooklyn borough deputy president. In 1982 Towns was elected to the U.S. House from New York's 11th Congressional District. Following redistricting in 1992, Towns won election from the new Tenth District, which included much of his old district. He was reelected in subsequent elections, sometimes receiving close to 90 percent of the vote. He is currently a member of the Congressional Black Caucus and the ...


Caryn E. Neumann

legislator. Edolphus “Ed” Towns was born in Chadbourn, Columbus County, North Carolina. He earned a BS from North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University in Greensboro in 1956. He then completed his military service in the U.S. Army from 1956 to 1958. He earned a master's degree in social work from Adelphi University in 1973.

A Democrat, Towns began his political career as deputy president of the borough of Brooklyn, New York, from 1976 to 1982, the first African American to hold this position. He entered the U.S. House of Representatives on 3 January 1983 representing the Tenth Congressional District of Brooklyn New York which encompasses the neighborhoods of East New York Canarsie Brownsville Bedford Stuyvesant Cypress Hills Clinton Hill Mill Basin Midwood Downtown Brooklyn and Boreum Hill as well as parts of Fort Greene and Williamsburg He served on the standing committees on ...


J. C. Watts was born in Eufaula, Oklahoma, where his father was the town's first African American police officer. Watts himself made history in Eufaula, helping to integrate the local elementary school and becoming the first black quarterback on the Eufaula High School football team. He attended the University of Oklahoma, where he earned statewide recognition playing quarterback for the school's football team and leading them to two consecutive Orange Bowl victories. Watts graduated in 1981 with a Bachelor of Arts degree in journalism, after which he enjoyed a successful career in the Canadian Football League. After retiring from football in 1986, he returned to Oklahoma to pursue business interests.

Watts says his fascination with politics was sparked when he was a journalism student covering political events In his initial foray into politics he was elected to a seat on the Oklahoma Corporation Commission a state entity charged ...


Steven B. Jacobson

athlete, minister, political leader, entrepreneur, and commentator, was born Julius Caesar Watts Jr. in Eufaula, McIntosh County, Oklahoma, the fifth of six children of Helen Pierce and J. C. “Buddy” Watts Sr., a policeman, preacher, cattle owner, handyman, and local entrepreneur. The Eufaula area, part of the Creek Nation Indian Territory until 1907 had a historical tradition of Native American slaveholding and racial segregation persisted there during Watts s youth Only blacks were allowed to attend Watts s first elementary school and Eufaula s only public swimming pool excluded blacks until his father and his uncle Wade Watts who later became head of the NAACP s Oklahoma chapter and a member of the U S Civil Rights Commission successfully lobbied to open it to all races Watts had other experiences with segregation Until he was in high school whites sat on the ground ...


Rachelle Gold

Republican politician. Born in Eufaula, Oklahoma, J. C. Watts Jr.—who has said that although “J. C.” does not stand for anything, he has often joked that it stands for “Julius Caesar”—was the fifth of six children. His parents, Buddy and Helen Watts, raised their children in the Baptist Church and urged them to excel in academics and athletics through hard work and personal responsibility. As a boy J. C. was one of two black children to integrate Eufaula's all-white elementary school. He graduated from high school in 1976 and then, recruited by the famous coach Barry Switzer, attended the University of Oklahoma. As quarterback for Oklahoma, Watts led the team to two consecutive Big Eight championships and Orange Bowl victories, in 1980 and 1981, and was voted most valuable player in both Orange Bowls. He graduated from Oklahoma with a degree in journalism in 1981 From ...