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Cathlyn Mariscotti

Egyptian Islamic scholar and prominent writer of Arabic literature, was born on 18 November 1913 into a conservative religious household in Dumyat (Damietta) in the Egyptian Delta. She was a descendent, on her mother’s side, of a shaykh of the Al-Azhar, the prestigious mosque and university in Cairo, and her father taught at Dumyat Religious Institute. Well acquainted with her family history, ʿAbd al- Rahman sought to continue this proud tradition. She began learning basic reading and writing skills before the age of five in a kuttab in her father s village This early instruction prepared her to read the Qurʾan ʿAbd al Rahman s later education became more difficult however as her father did not believe that girls should be educated outside the home because secular education did not provide proper instruction for them As a result ʿAbd al Rahman s mother would continually intervene to help her ...

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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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Larvester Gaither

clergyman, And Pearl (b. 7 December 1948), author, journalist, and playwright. Albert Buford Cleage was born in Indianapolis, Indiana, and grew up in Detroit, Michigan, where his father was a distinguished physician. Despite his upper-class origins, young Cleage gravitated toward issues of social justice and civil rights. At the age of thirty-one he received his BA from Wayne State University in Detroit and a divinity degree from Oberlin Graduate School of Theology a year later. Initially Cleage was committed to integration. In 1943 he was ordained in the Congregational Church and soon after became interim pastor at the integrated San Francisco Church for the Fellowship of All Peoples, a congregation cofounded by the renowned African American theologian Howard Thurman (1900–1981 But he became disillusioned by the social inequality within the congregation particularly toward the church s Japanese American members who had been removed from their homes ...

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Dickson D. Jr. Bruce

Born in Michigan, James D. Corrothers was raised in the predominantly white community of South Haven by his paternal grandfather, a man of Cherokee and Scotch-Irish ancestry. He moved to Muskegon at age fourteen, supporting himself and his grandfather. Shortly thereafter he moved to Indiana, then to Springfield, Ohio, working as a laborer. There, in his teens, he began his literary career, publishing a poem, “The Deserted School House”, in the local newspaper.

Corrothers's literary career received a boost when, at eighteen, he relocated to Chicago. Working in a white barber shop, he met journalist-reformer Henry Demarest Lloyd and showed him some poems. Lloyd arranged for their publication in the Chicago Tribune, getting Corrothers a custodial job in the Tribune offices Corrothers was soon asked to do an article on Chicago s African American elite He was chagrined when the story appeared rewritten by a white reporter ...

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Eric Gardner

writer, activist, minister, doctor, and businessman, was born in Washington, D.C., or nearby Maryland, probably to Thomas Detro (or Detrow), a stonemason, and his wife, Eleanor. Detter was educated in Washington, D.C., and was apprenticed to a shoemaker. Little is known of his early years. In 1852 he traveled aboard the steamer John L. Stephens to San Francisco, where he worked as a barber before moving to Sacramento. He quickly became active in northern California's black community and was Sacramento's delegate to the state Colored Conventions of 1855, 1856, and 1857; the 1855 Convention named him to the Executive Board.

Apparently frustrated by the lack of civil rights progress in California, he left the state in late 1857 Over the next decade he traveled throughout Idaho Washington and Oregon spending extended periods in areas around Boise Walla Walla Idaho City ...

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Frances Smith Foster

While details of Thomas Detter's early life are sketchy, it appears he was born in Maryland and educated in Washington, D.C., public schools. According to his father's will, he was to have been apprenticed as a shoemaker until his twenty-first birthday. Detter emigrated to San Francisco, California, in 1852, one of many African Americans lured by the economic prospects of gold and silver mining and the greater freedom of the western frontier. He quickly established himself as a community leader, becoming the Sacramento County delegate to the first Colored Citizens of the State of California Convention; serving on the State Executive Committee of that and other civil rights organizations; and campaigning in California, Nevada, Washington, and the Idaho Territory for public education, voting rights, and the admission of testimony by African Americans in court cases. Along with poet James Monroe Whitfield Detter was one of the first African ...

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L. Diane Barnes

novelist, playwright, and Baptist minister. Dixon was born near the close of the Civil War near Shelby, North Carolina. The Dixon family, once a prominent southern family, was left penniless in the physical and economic devastation of the South after the war. Dixon's father, a Baptist minister, joined the Ku Klux Klan during Dixon's youth. Images of the riders in white sheets coming to save the white South had a lasting impression on Dixon. His belief that the Reconstruction era was one of history's supreme tragedies was a common theme in several of his novels and plays.

Dixon earned bachelor's and master's degrees in history from Wake Forest University, then pursued graduate work at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore. There he befriended the future president Woodrow Wilson who was a few years ahead in his own graduate studies After a brief attempt at an acting career ...

Article

Chris Ruiz-Velasco

Sutton Elbert Griggs was born in Chatfield, Texas, the son of Allen R. Griggs, a prominent Baptist minister; his mother's name is not known. Sutton Griggs received his elementary education in the Dallas public schools and attended Bishop College in Marshall, Texas. After graduating in 1890, Griggs attended the Richmond Theological Seminary (later a part of Virginia Union University), graduating after three years. After his ordination as a Baptist minister, he was given his first pastorate at Berkley, Virginia, where he remained for two years. Griggs then moved to Tennessee where he spent thirty years, first at the First Baptist Church of East Nashville and later at the Tabernacle Baptist Church of Memphis, where he held ministerial office for nineteen years. Griggs married Emma J. Williams of Portsmouth, Virginia, in 1897; they had no children.

After Reconstruction and the subsequent segregation and antiblack violence Griggs ...

Article

Chris Ruiz-Velasco

writer and Baptist minister, was born Sutton Elbert Griggs in Chatfield, Texas, the son of Allen R. Griggs, a prominent Baptist minister; his mother's name is not known. Griggs received his elementary education in the Dallas public schools and attended Bishop College in Marshall, Texas. After graduating in 1890, he attended the Richmond Theological Seminary (later a part of Virginia Union University) and graduated after three years. After his ordination as a Baptist minister, he was given his first pastorate at Berkley, Virginia, where he remained for two years. He then moved to Tennessee, where he spent thirty years, first at the First Baptist Church of East Nashville and later at the Tabernacle Baptist Church of Memphis, where he held ministerial office for nineteen years. Griggs married Emma J. Williams of Portsmouth, Virginia, in 1897; they had no children.

After Reconstruction and the subsequent segregation and ...

Article

Arlene A. Elder

Born in Chatfield, Texas, on 19 June 1872, the son of Reverend Allen R. Griggs, a pioneer Baptist preacher in Texas, Sutton Elbert Griggs attended public schools in Dallas, graduated from Bishop College in Marshall, Texas, and trained for the ministry at the Richmond Theological Seminary. While he held pastorates in Virginia and Tennessee he produced the thirty-three books (including five novels) urging African American pride and self-help that garnered him widespread renown among African American readers. Because he established the Orion Publishing Company in Nashville, Tennessee, which promoted the sale of his books from 1908 until 1911, his works were probably more widely circulated among African Americans than the works of contemporaries Charles Waddell Chesnutt and Paul Laurence Dunbar. During the height of his creative production, both his writings and sermons militantly protested injustices and espoused the rights of his people. By 1920 however ...

Article

Bruce A. Glasrud

author, race activist, and Baptist minister. Sutton Elbert Griggs's life exemplifies the difficulties faced by African Americans and the debilitating effects of white society's pressures upon them during the early twentieth century. Born in Chatfield, Texas, Griggs attended public schools in the Dallas area, Bishop College in Marshall, Texas, and Richmond Theological Seminary in Richmond, Virginia. His father, Allen R. Griggs, was a prominent Baptist minister; little is known about his childhood or his mother.

According to Griggs, blacks were the racial equal of whites, and he spent his life emphasizing that creed. Griggs moved from Virginia to Tennessee in the 1890s, and soon he published five race-motivated novels; he ultimately published thirty-three books. The first in his series of race novels, Imperium in Imperio (1899 was set in Texas A covert political organization the Imperium in Imperio advocated revolt against the United States until Texas ...

Article

Ervin Dyer

professor of religion and culture, was born Charles Eric Lincoln in Athens, Alabama. Lincoln never knew his father, and his mother, Bradonia Lincoln, left the family when he was just four years old. Until late in his life Lincoln was removed from his immediate family, which grew to include six half brothers and sisters. Lincoln was reared instead by his maternal grandmother, “Miss Matt,” and grandfather, Less Lincoln, on their farm. They were poor, and a nine-year-old C. Eric was forced to take a job walking nearly three miles every morning as a delivery boy for a dairy farmer for thirty five cents a week At a time when most black children in rural Alabama dropped out of school by the sixth grade Lincoln was able to enroll in Trinity School a private missionary academy He was a bright student who finished high school in ...

Article

Waïl S. Hassan

Sudanese novelist, was born in the village of Debba in northern Sudan, where he first attended a khalwa, or qurʾanic school, before enrolling in British schools in Port Sudan and Umm Durman and then going to Khartoum University to study biology. Sudan’s most prominent writer and one of the most significant novelists in the Arabic language, Salih initially taught at an intermediate school in Rafaʿa and a teacher training college in Bakht al-Rida. In 1953 he went to London to work in the Arabic section of the BBC, and during the 1970s and 1980s he worked in Qatar’s Ministry of Information, then at UNESCO in Paris and as that organization’s representative in the Persian Gulf. Throughout that period and until the end of his life, he was based in London.

Salih’s enormous reputation rests on relatively few works of fiction: ʿUrs al-Zayn (1962; in English The Wedding of Zein ...

Article

Linda Spencer

author and Catholic activist, was born in Birmingham, Alabama, the first of three girls born to Robert Tarry, a barber, and Eula Meadows, a seamstress for wealthy white people in Birmingham. Tarry wrote in her autobiography, The Third Door (1955):

Anthropologists would probably have said that my father was a mulatto and my mother an octoroon. I do not know what scientific name they might have used to describe my two sisters and me. I do know a lot of unscientific names were used, but I was a young lady before I really understood. Mamy once laughingly said we were a “duke's mixture”; to me, that seemed closer to the truth than anything else did.

Born into a warm loving and supportive family Ellen only realized her complexion was an issue when she entered the segregated Birmingham Slater School In elementary school because of her ...

Article

Marilyn Booth

Egyptian poet and prose writer, was born into a notable Kurdish-origin Ottoman intellectual family with close ties to Egypt’s ruling family. Among the earliest generation of Arab women of the modern and print era to publish in her lifetime, she composed poetry in Farsi, Turkish, and Arabic; published a work of allegorical fiction; and was an early essayist on gender politics in Egypt.

Her father, Ismaʿil Taymur Pasha (1230 AH/1815 CE–1289 AH/1872 CE), a career bureaucrat, was drawn to intellectual pursuits. Taymur’s mother, like so many women throughout world history, is not survived by her name or by birth or death dates. Known to us only as “the Circassian,” she was likely Ismaʿil’s jariyah slave concubine but as was often the practice was freed Through Taymur s writing the mother appears as an assertive accomplished mistress of the household Her daughter wrote an elegy for her but more famously ...