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Steven J. Niven

slave, tailor, and politician, was born in Washington, in Wilkes County, Georgia, to Frances, a slave, and a white man whose surname was Finch. When William was twelve he was sent to live with another Wilkes County native, Judge Garnett Andrews, and in 1847, when he was fifteen, he apprenticed as a tailor. The following year Joseph H. Lumpkin, the chief justice of the Georgia Supreme Court, purchased William and brought him to his home in Athens, where Finch learned to read and write and also began a lifelong commitment to Christianity. Although he later joined the African Methodist Episcopal (AME) Church, it is likely that Finch first converted to the faith of his master, a devout Presbyterian. In 1854 Finch married Laura Wright, with whom he had five children.

Although still legally enslaved the Finch family enjoyed a fairly high degree of ...

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John G. Turner

barber, abolitionist, Freemason, and Latter-day Saint elder, was born in Barre, Worcester County, Massachusetts into a small African American community known as “Guinea Corner.” Lewis's father, Peter, born free, was a yeoman farmer; his mother, Minor, was born a slave. Lewis's name “Quack” is an anglicized variant of the Ghanian name Kwaku.

As a young adult Walker Lewis opened a barbershop in Tewksbury, a town later incorporated into Lowell. In 1826 he became a charter member of the Massachusetts General Colored Association (David Walker was another charter member), an organization that favored immediate emancipation. The abolition society became an auxiliary of the Massachusetts Anti-Slavery Society in 1833. With his money Lewis supported William Lloyd Garrison, and he and many of his relatives quietly supported the Underground Railroad.

In the early 1820s Lewis became a Freemason joining Boston s African Grand Lodge which also supported ...

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Carlos Parra

Six officially recognized saints lived in colonial Peru during the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries: Toribio de Mogrovejo (1538–1606), second archbishop of Lima and defender of the Indians; Francisco Solano (1549–1619), a Franciscan missionary, musician, and evangelizer of the South; Rosa de Lima (1586–1617), a tertiary of the Order of Preachers, the first native in the New World to be canonized; Juan Macías (1585–1645), a lay brother of the same order, servant of the poor; Ana de los Ángeles Monteagudo (1602–1686), a mystic nun of a cloistered convent in Arequipa; and Martín de Porres. In the context of this generation of saints, Martín is distinctive for being the first mulatto (of African and European descent) ever to be canonized by the Roman Catholic Church.

De Porres was born in Lima on December 9, 1579, the natural son of Juan ...

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Kathryn M. Silva

educator, minister, industrialist, physician, was born Thomas Wellington Thurston Jr. in Moorefield, West Virginia, to Betty (Jones) Thurston and Thomas W. Thurston Sr., both of West Virginia. Thurston grew up in Moorefield and attended Romney High School before leaving to receive his theological education in New Jersey. According to an article featuring Thurston in Who's Who of the Colored Race, after high school, Thurston studied theology under Reverend J. A. Gayley of Princeton University. Thurston married Julia Lacey of Washington, D.C., in 1890. The couple went on to raise eight children.

Thurston began his career as an educator He moved from West Virginia to Fort Barnwell North Carolina and served as the principal of the Barnwell Normal and Farm Life School for Colored Youth His work as an educator later intersected with his career in manufacturing with his pioneering work in the textile ...

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Charles Rosenberg

business owner, barber, and local church leader, stands out for his success in running a Main Street business in a small town in Mississippi during the most virulent years of Jim Crow. His mother, Mary Ollie Shuler, was a domestic worker who managed in 1883 to purchase a small home in Starkville, Mississippi, where Wier was born.

He attended a grade school designated for “colored” students from the age of 6 to 14, but spent a year after completing 8th grade recovering from an accidental sling shot wound to his eye. Wier never went back to school. He worked at construction jobs, as a water carrier, and shining shoes, until he was taught the basic skills of cutting hair by H. M. Carpenter, a barber classified by the laws of Mississippi as “white.” Carpenter advised Wier to gain some experience in the trade, so starting in 1904 ...