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Jeremy Rich

Congolese evangelist and translator was born in Gombe a village inhabited by Kakwa speaking clans in the northeastern corner of the modern day Democratic Republic of Congo This community suffered greatly from slave raids launched by Zande chieftains like Zémio and Mopoï living to their north in the late nineteenth century However the threat of northern raiders was hardly the only challenge for the young boy His name Akudri signified one who waited since he was born after his mother was pregnant for more than nine months He also bore his father s name Dada which means one who has no family This would indeed be Akudri s own fate since an epidemic of meningitis killed his parents and all his siblings when he was very young The boy barely survived himself A grave was dug to prepare for his funeral by other people in the village but he managed ...

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James Chrismer

evangelist and African Methodist Episcopal (AME) minister, was born a freewoman near Havre de Grace, Harford County, Maryland. One of seven children of William and Harriet Lego Cole, she was descended from a family that included a Native American maternal great-grandmother married to an Englishman, a maternal grandfather born in Guinea, and a paternal grandmother reputedly freed from slavery by a Baltimore court after enduring an unwarranted and savage beating while pregnant. In October 1845, when she was sixteen years of age, Harriet married William Baker, ten years her senior and a slave on the Edward Gallop plantation in Michaelsville, a nearby Maryland hamlet.

In 1847 when the couple learned of Gallop s plan to sell William to a slave dealer in Georgia they fled north with their infant daughter After a forty eight mile flight along the western bank of the Susquehanna River they crossed ...

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Floyd Jr. Ogburn

soldier and evangelist, was born in Boston, Massachusetts. His father was an African servant and his mother was the daughter of Colonel Morgan, an officer in the rifle corps during the American Revolutionary War. As an infant Bowles remained with his father but dwelled with a foster parent in Lunenburg, Massachusetts, until age twelve. After the death of his foster parent, he lived with a Tory family until fourteen, when he joined the Colonial artillery as a waiter to an officer. Two years later he enlisted in the American army and served until the war concluded.

The war over, Bowles traveled to New Hampshire and married Mary Corliss his cousin and the granddaughter of Colonel Morgan Soon after marriage he was baptized and joined the Calvinist Baptist Church in Wentworth New Hampshire Finding the Calvinist denomination too inflexible he later converted to the Free Will Baptist embracing ...

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David Killingray

Campaigning Christian evangelist, author, journalist, and Pan‐Africanist born in Dominica but educated in the neighbouring West Indian island of Antigua. An influential friend in Antigua was the Revd Henry Mason Joseph, later president of the African Association in London in 1897. In 1870 Edwards stowed away on a ship and over the next few years he travelled the world as a seaman visiting North and South America and Europe He landed in Sunderland and thereafter lived briefly in Edinburgh and Newcastle and worked with a group of black entertainers At some point he was converted to Christianity and as a Primitive Methodist worked as a temperance evangelist in Lancashire and Cheshire He had ambitions to go to Africa as a missionary but gravitated to east London where he ran a weekly Bible class for men and regularly preached in Victoria Park Some referred to ...

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Martha L. Wharton

evangelist and writer, was born near Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, to parents whose names remain unknown. In 1802, when Zilpha was twelve, her mother died during the birth of her twenty-second child, leaving Zilpha's father to raise the three children who had survived infancy. Unable to support the family, her father sent her older brother to their grandparents' farm far from Philadelphia and consigned Zilpha to a local Quaker couple, Pierson and Rebecca Mitchel. Within eighteen months Zilpha's father died. Zilpha felt fortunate to stay with the Mitchels for the next six years, until she reached the age of eighteen.

Zilpha had enjoyed a close relationship with her father and was deeply grieved by his passing The emotional turmoil associated with his death led her to a deeper contemplation of the state of her soul though she felt that she had no religious instruction or direction to guide her ...

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Zilpha Elaw was born around 1790 to free parents who brought her up in the vicinity of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. In her midteens, while working as a domestic servant, she began to have religious visions. She was converted to Christianity and joined a Methodist society in an outlying region of Philadelphia in 1808. Two years later she married Joseph Elaw, a fuller, and moved with him to Burlington, New Jersey, where their daughter was born in 1812.

During a camp meeting in 1819, Zilpha Elaw became convinced that she had been called to preach the gospel. Her Memoirs state that the ministers of the Methodist Society of Burlington endorsed her aspirations and that she enjoyed initial success in her local ministry despite her husband's opposition. In 1823, Joseph Elaw died forcing his widow to find employment as a domestic A few years thereafter Elaw opened ...

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Gayle T. Tate

Zilpha Elaw lived a life characterized by an intense journey toward spiritual empowerment and the divine status of sanctification, a need to define herself as a black woman in a racist and sexist society, and psychological wholeness through preaching the word of God. This empowering process began for Elaw in the early stages of her life when she was bound out as a servant girl and reflects just as much her resistance to her earthly oppression and her sense of powerlessness as it does to her quest for spiritual purification. Since all of her labor as a servant was regimented, Elaw was alienated from the mode of labor as well as estranged from the environment that coerced her labor productivity. Elaw’s spiritual redemption was intertwined with the political and social forces that circumscribed the lives of black women, and these realities became a dynamic force in her spiritual journey.

Zilpha ...

Article

Stacey Pamela Patton

Born in a small community outside of Philadelphia, Zilpha Elaw was one of her parents' three surviving children. When her mother died in childbirth with her twentysecond child, Elaw was placed by her father with a Quaker family, where she remained between the ages of twelve and eighteen. She found herself disturbed by the silence of the Quaker mode of worship, having been raised in a family whose worship involved shouting and singing. She became increasingly drawn to the emotional appeal of evangelical Protestants and began proselytizing in the areas near Philadelphia after the death of her father around 1804 In particular Elaw experienced conversion following a vision of being visited by Jesus while she was milking a cow She described him standing in white with his arms stretched open to receive her She experienced visions throughout her life they became a source of her critiques of racism ...

Article

Zilphia Elaw was born to a free family in Pennsylvania and was raised near Philadelphia. When her mother died in 1802, Elaw was forced to live with a Quaker family as a servant. She found the Quaker practice of silent worship too dry, and preferred more expressive devotion. In Memoirs, the only source of information on her life, Elaw reports that at age fourteen she had a vision of Jesus Christ that changed her life. She joined the Methodist Episcopal Church in 1808.

Two years later she married Joseph Elaw and the couple moved to Burlington, New Jersey. Her husband had been expelled from the Methodist Church and disapproved of his wife's zeal, which nevertheless became more intense. At a revival in 1817, Elaw fell into a trance during which, she believed, God sanctified her soul. After her husband died in 1823 she dissociated ...

Article

Roxanne Y. Schwab

dancer and actress, was born Loletha Elaine Falana in Camden, New Jersey, to Bennet and Cleo Falana. Her Cuban father had immigrated to the United States a few years before and was working as a welder, housing the family at the Clement T. Branch Village public housing project in the Centerville section of Camden. A dancer at age three and a singer with the church choir at age five, Falana disregarded her parents' concerns about her future and opted to leave Germantown High School months before graduation to embark on a show business career in New York.

Sleeping in a subway car because she could not afford an apartment, Falana soon landed dancing gigs at Small's Paradise in Harlem and in the singer Dinah Washington's nightclub act. The performer Sammy Davis Jr. recognized Falana's potential and cast her in a feature role in his Broadway musical Golden Boy ...

Article

Lisa Clayton Robinson

The daughter of former slaves, Julia Foote attended a segregated white Methodist church with her family during her childhood in Schenectady, New York. When she was a teenager her family moved to Albany, New York, and joined the local African Methodist Episcopal Church (AME). Foote had a conversion experience in that church in 1838.

The next year she married George Foote and moved with him to Boston. Before her conversion, Foote had agreed with the conventional opinion that women should not preach. But after her arrival in Boston, she felt the call to preach and pray in public. Despite the disapproval of her parents, husband, and minister, and the threat of excommunication from her church, Foote began a career as an evangelist. During the next four decades, Foote traveled and preached throughout New England and the mid-Atlantic states, and as far away as Detroit, Michigan San Francisco ...

Article

Martha L. Wharton

evangelist and writer, was born the fourth child of freed parents in Schenectady, New York. Little is known of her early life except what can be gleaned from her autobiography, A Brand Plucked from the Fire (1879). It is known that she had a brother and an elder sister. She never reveals her family surname, nor does she provide her full name in the text.

Julia's mother—unnamed in Brand, though deeply influential in Julia's life—was born a slave in New York and suffered under a cruel master and mistress. Though this is a traditional claim in texts grounded in the slave narrative tradition, as popularized by such accounts as those of Frederick Douglass and Sojourner Truth Foote to use her married name provides graphic detail to support her mother s claim of suffering When Julia s mother refused her master s sexual advances and reported ...

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Michael L. Krenn

boxer and businessman, was born George Edward Foreman in Marshall, Texas, the son of J. D. Foreman and Nancy Ree. His father, a railroad employee and a heavy drinker, was absent for much of George's childhood. His mother worked several jobs, including as a waitress, to support George and his six siblings.

As Foreman describes it his childhood was marked by intense want and hunger and an anger that often exploded into fighting Even at a young age he was larger than normal and he used his intimidating size to bully his peers He had little love for school although football in junior high school proved attractive for its violence and aggression Foreman did not last long in high school however By the age of fifteen he was spending most of his time on the streets of Houston where his mother had moved the family when he was ...

Article

Patrick Stearns

professional boxer, actor, product spokesperson, and minister. George Edward Foreman was born in Marshall, Texas, to J. D. Foreman and Nancy Foreman. By the seventh grade he had dropped out of school, engaging in petty crimes, such as muggings. At age sixteen he enrolled in a Job Corps training program in Oregon. While working at a conservation camp affiliated with the program, Foreman found that he had a talent for boxing, and he won the Corps Diamond Belt Boxing Tournament.

In 1968 Foreman made the U.S. Olympic boxing team and won the gold medal in the Olympic Games in Mexico City. Vietnam War protests, the rise of black nationalism, and episodes of civil unrest in U.S. cities after Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s assassination earlier in the year were a sign of the times. The 1968 Olympics in Mexico City were also the scene ...

Article

Richard Newman

better known as Daddy Grace or Sweet Daddy Grace or by his self-proclaimed title, Boyfriend of the World, was one of the more flamboyant religious leaders of the twentieth century. He was born, probably as Marceline Manoel da Graca, in Brava, Cape Verde Islands, of mixed Portuguese and African ancestry, the son of Manuel de Graca and Gertrude Lomba. In the charismatic church that he founded and headed, however, he managed to transcend race by declaring: “I am a colorless man. I am a colorless bishop. Sometimes I am black, sometimes white. I preach to all races.” Like many other Cape Verdeans, Grace immigrated to New Bedford, Massachusetts, around the turn of the century and worked there and on Cape Cod as a short-order cook, a salesman of sewing machines and patent medicines, and a cranberry picker.Also known as Bishop Grace he may have established his first church ...

Article

Charles Emmanuel Grace was of mixed African and Portuguese descent, born in the Cape Verde Islands around 1882, probably as Marceline Manoël de Graça. Grace was among the numerous Cape Verdean immigrants who arrived in the United States during the first decade of the twentieth century. In the Cape Verdean communities of New Bedford and Cape Cod, Massachusetts, Grace worked as a short-order cook, a cranberry picker, and a sewing machine and patent medicine salesman.

Grace founded his first church in West Waltham, Massachusetts, around 1919. By the mid-1920s he had moved south, and was holding large, popular revivals and tent-meetings around Charlotte, North Carolina. In 1927 with an estimated 13 000 followers Grace incorporated The United House of Prayer for All People of the Church on the Rock of the Apostolic Faith The church grew rapidly and soon included branches all along the eastern seaboard ...

Article

Andrew Du Bois

Born Stanley Kirk Burrell in Oakland, California, MC Hammer made his album debut in 1988 with the self-produced Let's Get It Started. His style—frenetic beats and chanted lyrics—did not impress the Hip-Hop cognoscenti, but the album sold over one million copies and set the stage for one of hip-hop's biggest surprises. Buoyed by the genial dance floor anthem “U Can't Touch This,” Hammer's second album, Please Hammer Don't Hurt ‘Em (1990) held the top spot on the charts for 21 weeks, becoming the biggest-selling Rap album in history.

Hammer was a better entertainer than a rapper his live shows were energetic spectacles intricately choreographed events that highlighted the hugely popular dance routines of Hammer and his massive entourage The artist s videos distilled the live experience into simple but effective blasts that found heavy rotation on MTV Hammer won three Grammy awards two for U Can ...

Article

John G. Turner

pastor, evangelist, and writer, was born Thomas Dexter Jakes in Vandalia, West Virginia, the third and youngest child of Ernest Jakes Sr. and Odith Jakes. Jakes's father owned a fifty-two-employee janitorial service and instilled in his son an appreciation for entrepreneurship and economic empowerment. Jakes's mother taught home economics. As a child “Tommy” Jakes followed in his parents' footsteps by working a paper route and selling vegetables grown by his mother. He grew up in his parents' Baptist church and as an adolescent served as its part-time choir director.

When Jakes was ten his father was diagnosed with a terminal kidney disease Alongside his mother Jakes cared for his father and helped with the business When his father died five years later Jakes searched for a deeper religious experience and underwent a conversion at a storefront apostolic church that belonged to a small Pentecostal denomination He ...

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Kimberly Burnett

evangelist minister and entrepreneur. Thomas Dexter Jakes was born in South Charleston, West Virginia, and was the youngest of three children. A quiet yet observant child, Jakes learned a great deal from his father, who was a hard-working businessman and entrepreneur, as well as from his mother, a devoted educator. From a young age, he was taught in church, and by age nineteen Jakes had entered the ministry and preached his first sermon. In 1979 Jakes was licensed as a minister and founded Greater Emmanuel Temple of Faith, a storefront church that began with only ten members in a small town in West Virginia. Focusing specifically on the often-overlooked issues of women, Jakes's message, titled “Woman Thou Art Loosed,” drew a following that grew exponentially. In 1996 Jakes moved himself along with fifty other families within the congregation to Dallas Texas to establish a multiracial nondenominational church called the ...

Article

Jeremy Rich

was born in a small town several hundred kilometers east of the small regional center of Djoko Punda in the Kasai province of colonized Belgian Congo what is now the Democratic Republic of the Congo His family belonged to a Luba speaking clan and he was his parents eighth child Kazadi s parents died when he was very young A group of American Mennonite Protestant missionaries had established a church in Djoko Punda shortly before Kazadi s birth Following his parents deaths the missionaries decided to help the young boy and allowed him to enroll at their new school after he had moved to live with his brother who already had found work as a domestic servant with the mission Kazadi considered leaving the mission as Catholic missionaries tried to encourage Congolese to abandon the Mennonites during World War I He recalled even leaving the mission grounds and boarding a ...