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Valerie A. Gray

college president, educator, and minister, was born Jared Maurice Arter in Jefferson County, West Virginia, the son of Jeremiah Arter, a slave and a miller by trade, and Hannah Frances Stephenson, a slave. When Arter was seven years old his father died in an accident at the mill. The plantation on which the family lived, the Little plantation, was located four miles from Harpers Ferry. In 1859 Arter witnessed the hanging of four men who participated in John Brown's raid at that city. This childhood memory sparked in him the desire to fight for equality; the schoolroom would be his battleground.

As a teenager Arter applied for a position as a bellboy for which he would have to pass a test demonstrating his ability to read numbers With help from his brother in law he mastered the skill sufficiently in one evening to pass the test This accomplishment ...


Stacey Graham

bishop and patriarch of Alexandria, theologian, author, and doctor of the Church, is significant for his staunch opposition to Arianism, his prolific theological works, and his exile-ridden episcopate during a tumultuous time for Church and imperial politics. His most influential work is the seminal hagiography of Western monasticism, Life of Anthony.

Athanasius was born in Alexandria Egypt probably in the year 296 though possibly as late as 300 At an early age he came to the attention of Alexander the patriarch of Alexandria who ordained him as a priest and brought him into the patriarch s service Alexandria in the fourth century cultivated a mixture of intellectual philosophical and religious schools of thought from its long standing pagan Jewish and Christian communities The city was economically vital as the main grain supplier for the imperial capital at Constantinople and it ranked third among the four patriarchates in the early ...


Laura Murphy

minister and author, was born a slave in Anne Arundel County, Maryland, about sixty miles from Baltimore. He is best known for his narrative, published in 1847, which describes his time in slavery, his escape, and his call to the ministry.

Though Black served several owners in his early life he was eventually brought back to Maryland to live with his original owner where he was reunited with his four brothers Within six months of meeting them again three of his brothers escaped encouraging him to escape when he could While enslaved in Baltimore Black had the urge to read and though he bought books on several occasions his master found them and either burned them or gave them to his son Black is quick in his narrative to make the observation that in this case the education of a white child was not simply gained at the expense ...


Raymond Pierre Hylton

minister, author, physician, dentist, and missionary, was born in Winton, North Carolina. His father, Lemuel Washington Boone (1827–1878), was a prominent minister and politician, and one of the original trustees of Shaw University.

Boone received his early education at Waters Normal and Industrial Institute in Winton. From 1896 to 1899 he attended Richmond Theological Seminary in Richmond, Virginia. In 1899, when the seminary merged with Wayland Seminary College of Meridian Hill in Washington, D.C., to form Virginia Union University and moved to its new Richmond campus at North Lombardy Street, Boone finished his senior year and became part of the university's first graduating class in 1900; he received the bachelor's of divinity degree.

During his final year at Virginia Union, Boone met Eva Roberta Coles from Charlottesville, Virginia, who studied at the neighboring African American women's institution, Hartshorn Memorial College, from which she graduated in 1899 ...


Daniel L. Fountain

Baptist minister, missionary, and author, was born Charles Octavius Boothe in Mobile County, Alabama, to a Georgia‐born slave woman belonging to and carried west by the slave owner Nathan Howard Sr. Little is known of Boothe s Georgian parents but he proudly claimed that his great grandmother and stepgrandfather were Africans Boothe s description of his ancestors reflects his lifelong pride in his African heritage but he was equally effusive about the spiritual influence that these Christian elders had on his life His earliest recollections included his stepgrandfather s prayer life and singing of hymns and the saintly face and pure life of my grandmother to whom white and black went for prayer and for comfort in the times of their sorrows These early familial Christian influences were further reinforced by attending a Baptist church in the forest where white and colored people sat together to commune and to ...


Linda M. Carter

escaped slave and minister, was born in Greenville County, Kentucky. Until Campbell was in his thirties, he worked for various masters in Kentucky, Mississippi, and Tennessee respectively. When Campbell was approximately eighteen years old, he married a slave named Matilda. In 1837 the Campbells joined a church and were baptized. Less than two years later, Campbell began preaching. By the late 1840s, Campbell was a widower, and he was determined to not endure slavery any longer; thus he fled to Canada, where he was reunited with Washington Campbell, one of his six siblings. The brothers were partners in several Canadian business ventures.

After passage of the Fugitive Slave Act in 1850, Campbell became an agent for Henry Bibb's Voice of the Fugitive which was the first black newspaper in Canada Campbell was also a delegate to the Fugitive Convention of Canada and on behalf of the ...


Rochell Isaac

pastor, educator, and entrepreneur, was born a slave in Christian Country, Kentucky. Clark never knew his biological father. While Clark was still a baby, his father escaped from slavery. His mother, Mary Clark, subsequently married Jerry Clark, who would join the Union army in 1860. Charles Henry Clark remained a slave for a total of nine years, and it was at the age of seven that the overseer's wife took him as her servant. She taught Clark to spell and initiated his path to literacy, but the outbreak of the Civil War would separate Clark from his teacher. During this period, Clark's mother moved from Kentucky to New Providence, Tennessee, to await her husband, Jerry Clark, who was returning from the army. Mary Clark had difficulty financially supporting her family, since her only income at this time came from her eldest son, George W. Clark As ...


Mary F. Corey

Daniel Coker was born a slave in Frederick County, Maryland, the son of Susan Coker, a white indentured servant, and Edward Wright, a black slave belonging to the same plantation owner whose name is unknown. Daniel Coker was educated with his master's son, who refused to go to school without his slave. When Coker was in his early teens he escaped to New York City where he joined the Methodist Church and was ordained as a lay minister.

Empowered by his education and ordination, Coker returned to Maryland in 1801 to become the first African American teacher at the African Academy, a school founded by the Baltimore Abolition Society for the education of free blacks. He was the first black licensed minister in Baltimore and the spiritual leader of an independent prayer meeting formed by black Methodists dissatisfied with their position within the white Methodist church ...


Mary F. Corey

a founder of the African Methodist Episcopal church, author, and educator, was born a slave in Frederick County, Maryland, the son of Susan Coker, a white indentured servant, and Edward Wright, a black slave belonging to the same plantation owner, whose name is unknown. Daniel Coker was educated with his master's son, who refused to go to school without his slave. When Coker was in his early teens he escaped to New York City where he joined the Methodist Church and was ordained as a lay minister.

Empowered by his education and ordination, Coker returned to Maryland in 1801 to become the first African American teacher at the African Academy a school founded by the Baltimore Abolition Society for the education of free blacks He was the first black licensed minister in Baltimore and the spiritual leader of an independent prayer meeting formed by black Methodists dissatisfied ...


Carl Mirra

theologian, was born in Fordyce, Arkansas, the son of Charles “Charlie” Madison Cone, a woodcutter, and Lucy Cone. Cone was the youngest of three children. When Cone was just a year old his family moved to Beardon, Arkansas, a rural town of roughly 800 whites and 400 blacks. He only achieved a sixth grade education, but his natural intelligence and courage led him to later challenge racial segregation, a lifetime commitment to racial justice that included his participation in a school desegregation case and his opposition to racial coercion in the Jim Crow South.

Cone s early education took place in segregated schools that often employed teachers without college degrees What they lacked in formal training however Cone s teachers made up for in life affirming qualities He recalls that his first grade teacher often hugged him making him feel loved Cone did not know what it meant ...


Steven J. Niven

slave narrative author, minister, and politician, was born in rural tidewater Virginia. All that is known about Cook's early life appears in an unpublished, handwritten, thirty-two-page autobiographical narrative, which is the only surviving memoir written by a slave while still in the South. Unlike nearly all of the autobiographical memoirs written by nineteenth-century African American slaves, Cook's narrative is not addressed to a Northern abolitionist audience, but rather was written solely for the author's “own benefit in future years.” Cook may also have had a larger audience in mind, since he promises at one point “to be candid before an enli[ghtened] community,” though it is possible that he intended his children and grandchildren to read it. The narrative also makes clear Cook's extensive knowledge of the Scriptures, and it may have served as a guide for his later work as a minister.

Episodic occasionally rambling and often vague in ...


Donna L. Halper

clergyman, educator, and author, was born in Fredericktown, Maryland, or as he put it in his autobiography, “Frederick Town.” He was born on the eastern shore of Maryland, the birthplace of Frederick Douglass, but was freeborn, one of eight children of John Coppin, probably a farmer, and Jane Lilly, a homemaker. His father was a member of the African Methodist Episcopal (AME) Church. There were no schools where he could get an advanced education, so he was homeschooled by his mother, and tutored privately by Quakers in Wilmington, Delaware, who prepared him for a career in teaching. He then began teaching in Smyrna, Delaware, and occasionally served as a preacher. A personal tragedy, however, pushed him toward the ministry. In September 1875 he married Martha Grinnage a young schoolteacher from Wilmington Delaware and they soon had a son But the baby was only nine months old when ...


Julia Sun-Joo Lee

slave, shoemaker, and pastor, was born in Madison County, Virginia, to John and Jane Davis, slaves belonging to Robert Patten, a wealthy merchant and mill owner. Both of Davis's parents were devout Baptists who instilled in Davis a strong relationship to the church.

By Davis's account, Patten was a comparatively fair master who valued his slaves and who accorded John Davis many privileges, among them the ability to raise livestock and to keep his children with him until they were old enough to go into trade. John Davis was the head miller at Patten's merchant mill located on Crooked Run, a stream between Madison and Culpeper County. He was able to read and figure, but he could not write.

When Noah Davis was about twelve Patten sold his mill and emancipated Davis s mother and father Davis s family moved to one of Patten ...


Jeremy Rich

early Congolese Protestant, skilled translator, and author, was born to a Kikongo-speaking family in the town of Padwa, located in northern Angola. At a very young age, Dundulu became the ward of his powerful uncle Tulante Mbidi. Dundulu’s uncle was the chief of the village of Lemvo and a regionally renowned ivory and slave trader. This territory was under the domain of the Kongolese monarch Dom Pedro V, who brought the British Missionary Society minister William Bentley to Dundulu’s village in 1879 Bentley was trying to learn Kikongo and found Dundulu to be an excellent instructor With the consent of Tulante Mbidi and the Kongolese king Dundulu became Bentley s teacher and colleague He displayed his gift for language by quickly learning how to read and write Bentley called him Nlemvo after the name of his home village Bentley believed this word meant obedience in Kikongo but it later ...


R. Baxter Miller

scholar and educator, was born in Washington, D.C., the daughter of James Stanley Dykes and Martha Ann Howard. Eva graduated from M Street High (later Paul Laurence Dunbar High School) in 1910. As valedictorian of her class, she won a $10 scholarship from Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority to attend Howard University, where in 1914 she graduated summa cum laude with a BA in English. After a year of teaching Latin and English at the now defunct Walden University in Nashville, Tennessee, and for another year elsewhere, she was urged by James Howard, a physician and uncle on her mother's side, to enter Radcliffe College in 1916. Subsequently, she earned a second BA in English, magna cum laude, in 1917. Elected Phi Beta Kappa, she received an MA in English in 1918 and a PhD in English philology in 1921 Her dissertation was titled ...


Dorsia Smith Silva

writer, educator, and preacher, was born in Detroit, Michigan, to Addie Mae Leonard, a teacher's aide. In 1990 Dyson was adopted by the auto worker Everett Dyson when Leonard married him. As a child, Dyson read avidly and enjoyed the Harvard Classics. His intellectual vigor earned him a scholarship to the prestigious Cranbrook Kingswood School in 1972. However, Dyson behaved poorly and was expelled in 1974. He then attended Northwestern High School and graduated in 1976.

In 1977, Dyson married his girlfriend, Terrie Dyson, who gave birth to Michael Eric Dyson II a year later. Due to the pressures of being a young couple, Dyson and his wife divorced in 1979. To help focus his life, Dyson became a licensed Baptist preacher in 1979 and ordained minister in 1981 with his pastor Frederick G. Sampson II s assistance He ...


Donald Yacovone

minister, author, and abolitionist, was born in North Bridgewater (later Brockton), Massachusetts, to James, a successful businessman, and Sarah Dunbar Easton. Easton'sTreatise on the Intellectual Character, and Civil and Political Condition of the Colored People of the U. States (1837) was the nation's first systematic study of racism and stands with David Walker's Appeal (1829) as among the most important writings by African Americans during the early nineteenth century. The seven children of the Easton family blended African, American Indian, and white ancestry. Thus, the concept of “race,” as whites began to redefine it in the early nineteenth century, possessed little meaning to the Eastons. Indeed, one of Hosea Easton's brothers married into North Bridgewater's most distinguished white family.

James Easton had been a much respected businessman in the greater Boston area and a Revolutionary War veteran and viewed ...


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 ...


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 ...


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 ...