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Aomar Boum

Moroccan troubadour poet and Sufi figure, was born in 1506 in the village of Tit near the city of Azemmour. He is also known as al-Shaykh Abu Zayd Abderrahman al-Majdoub Ibn Ayyad Ibn Yaacub Ibn Salama Ibn Khashan al-Sanhaji al-Dukkali and as al-Majdoub; his contemporaries nicknamed him El Majdoub. He moved with his father to Meknès in 1508 His father was a renowned Sufi trained by al Shaykh Ibrahim Afham al Zarhuni a disciple of al Shaykh Ahmad Zarruq Zarruq was a North African Sufi who lived through the fifteenth century Marinid religious turmoil He called for new interpretations of Islam based on juridical sainthood that stressed religious form Accordingly Zarruq asked Sufi authorities of Fez to avoid opportunistic notions of jihad that scapegoat some Muslims in order to increase the accusers political status Abderrahman El Majdoub was influenced indirectly by some of Zarruq s ideas regarding the nature ...

Article

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 ...

Article

Adam Biggs

Walter Henderson Brooks was born in Richmond, Virginia, the son of Albert Royal Brooks and Lucy Goode, slaves. Brooks's father was an enterprising slave who owned his own “snack house” and a livery business that brought him into contact with some of Virginia's wealthiest citizens, including his wife's owner, German consul Daniel Von Groning. Albert Brooks purchased his wife's freedom in 1862 for $800 Still a slave Walter Brooks at age seven was sold to the Turpin Yarborough tobacco firm He woefully recalled his time there writing It was all I could do to perform the task assigned to my little hands What I do remember is that I stood in mortal fear of the consequences of failing to do what was required of me When the Richmond manufacturer fell victim to wartime economic decline Brooks was allowed to reside with his mother and began working ...

Article

Adam Biggs

clergyman, temperance leader, and poet, was born in Richmond, Virginia, the son of Albert Royal Brooks and Lucy Goode, slaves. Brooks's father, an enterprising slave, owned his own “snack house” and a livery business that brought him into contact with some of Virginia's wealthiest citizens, including his wife's owner, the German consul Daniel Von Groning. Albert Brooks purchased his wife's freedom in 1862 for eight hundred dollars. Still a slave, Walter Brooks at age seven was sold to the Turpin & Yarborough tobacco firm. He woefully recalled his time there, writing: “It was all I could do to perform the task assigned to my little hands. What I do remember is that I stood in mortal fear of ‘the consequences’ of failing to do what was required of me.” When the Richmond manufacturer fell victim to wartime economic decline, Brooks was allowed to reside with his mother ...

Article

Roxanne Y. Schwab

writer and educator, was born in Dresden, Ontario, Canada, the fourth child of William and Nancy Newman. Little is known of her family, and the exact dates of her birth and death are unknown, but she was most likely born sometime in the mid-nineteenth century. As a young woman, she accompanied her father to the West Indies for missionary work, then returned to the United States when he became pastor of a church in Cincinnati, Ohio. Following her father's death, she moved to Appleton, Wisconsin, where she looked after her invalid mother for thirteen months. Upon her mother's death, Lucretia Newman became the head of the household for her siblings. After her early education she completed a course of scientific study at Lawrence University in Appleton before finding work as a high school music teacher and as a clerk in a dry goods store.

In 1883 Coleman was ...

Article

William C. Fischer

journalist, poet, and clergyman, was born in Chain Lake Settlement, Cass County, Michigan, a colony first settled by fugitive slaves in the 1840s. His parents were James Richard Carruthers (the spelling was later changed by Corrothers), a black soldier in the Union army, and Maggie Churchman, of French and Madagascan descent, who died when Corrothers was born. Corrothers was legally adopted by his paternal grandfather, a pious and respected man of Cherokee and Scotch-Irish origins, who raised young Corrothers in relative poverty. They lived in several roughneck towns along the eastern shore of Lake Michigan, where Corrothers attended school and became aware of racial hostility. When he was just a boy family members introduced him to a rich vein of African American folk tales that he would later draw upon for a number of his dialect sketches.

Working in his teens variously as a sawmill hand hotel menial coachman ...

Article

William C. Fischer

Corrothers, James David (02 July 1869–12 February 1917), journalist, poet, and clergyman, was born in Chain Lake Settlement, Cass County, Michigan, a colony first settled by fugitive slaves in the 1840s. His parents were James Richard Carruthers (spelling later changed by Corrothers), a black soldier in the Union army, and Maggie Churchman, of French and Madagascan descent, who died when Corrothers was born. Corrothers was legally adopted by his nonblack paternal grandfather, a pious and respected man of Cherokee and Scotch-Irish origins, who raised young Corrothers in relative poverty. They lived in several roughneck towns along the eastern shore of Lake Michigan, where Corrothers attended school and became aware of racial hostility. In his boyhood family members introduced him to a rich vein of African-American folk tales that he would later draw upon for a number of his dialect sketches.

Working in his teens variously as a ...

Article

David Dabydeen

Englishpoet who lent his pen to the anti‐slavery cause. Cowper was a supporter of international commerce, which he saw, idealistically, as the means by which mankind could share in God's bounty. In his poem Charity (1782), trade is described as ‘the golden girdle of the globe’, and Cowper writes of the ‘genial intercourse’ between nations effected by 18th‐century mercantile activity. The slave trader, however, betrays the principle of mutuality underpinning international commerce and brings shame to a Christian nation such as Great Britain (‘Canst thou, and honour'd with a Christian name | Buy what is woman‐born, and feel no shame?’). Religion apart, the slave trader also betrays the spirit of the age, its growing championing of liberty. To Cowper, the existence of slavery calls into question the very nature of humanity:

Then what is man? And what man, seeing this

And having human feelings does not blush ...

Article

Alessandra Vianello

Islamic mystic and scholar, and the most outstanding poetess in Chimini, the Bantu vernacular of Brava, was born in Brava, a coastal city of southern Somalia, in the second decade of the nineteenth century. Her full name was Mana Sitti Habib Jamaladdin, but she was affectionately called Dada Masiti (Grandmother Masiti) by her fellow citizens. Her family, both on the paternal and maternal side, belonged to the Mahadali Ashraf. However, through her mother’s maternal grandfather, Dada Masiti was also related to the Ali Naziri Ashraf, who were locally more numerous and influential. Both groups, who traced their lineage to the Prophet Muhammad, had settled in Brava in the early seventeenth century.

The events that marked Dada Masiti s early years and had a crucial bearing on her subsequent spiritual development are known only through different oral traditions The most widespread version would have her kidnapped as a child of six ...

Article

Bobby Donaldson

minister, educator, and author, was born in Augusta, Georgia, to David Floyd, a minister, and Sarah Jane Nickson. He attended Augusta's Ware High School, the only publicly funded African American high school in Georgia. Following his graduation in 1886, Floyd enrolled at Atlanta University and received a bachelor's degree in 1891 and a master's degree three years later. Morris Brown College in Atlanta awarded him an honorary doctorate degree in June 1902. While at Atlanta University, Floyd explored his interests in writing and literature and also took courses in printmaking. During the summer months, he earned additional income teaching in the rural schools of Jones and Forsyth counties. Upon graduation, Floyd returned to Augusta and assumed editorship of the Augusta Sentinel newspaper, an organ established by his former Ware High School principal, Richard R. Wright Sr. In 1892 Floyd joined six ...

Article

Kimani Njogu

Kenyan theologian, preacher, counselor, author, and poet, was born on 3 March 1925. As a child John Gatu attended Kambui Mission School between 1931 and 1940. However, his education was cut short in 1941 when he joined the army during World War II, and rose through the ranks to become a company sergeant major, the second-highest rank that was available then to Kenyans. At the time Gatu did not believe in Christianity, despite coming from a Christian background. While in the army, in June 1946, Gatu attended the coveted victory parade in London and had a meeting with Jomo Kenyatta, Kenya’s first president, for the first time. For Gatu, Christianity was the “opium applied to Africans by the white man” (personal communication, 3 March 2006). This belief led him to take the Mau Mau oath and fight for the liberation of Kenya.

During this period Gatu trained ...

Article

Sondra O’Neale

Jupiter Hammon gave birth to formal African American literature with the publication of An Evening Thought, Salvation, by Christ, with Penitential Cries (1760). Hammon was born on 17 October 1711 at the Lloyd plantation in Oyster Bay, Long Island, New York. He was almost fifty years old when he published his first poem, “Salvation Comes by Christ Alone,” on 25 December 1760.

Hammon was a slave to the wealthy Lloyd family. It is evident that he received some education, and he was entrusted with the family's local savings and worked as a clerk in their business. There is no record of his having a wife or child.

By the time he was eighty, Hammon had published at least three other poems— “An Address to Miss Phillis Wheatly [sic], Ethiopian Poetess”, “A Poem for Children with Thoughts of Death”, and A Dialogue Entitled the Kind ...

Article

Duncan F. Faherty

poet and preacher, was born on the estate of Henry Lloyd on Long Island, New York, most probably the son of two of Lloyd's slaves, Rose and Opium, the latter renowned for his frequent escape attempts. Few records remain from Hammon's early life, though correspondence of the Lloyd family indicates that in 1730 he suffered from a near-fatal case of gout. He was educated by Nehemiah Bull, a Harvard graduate, and Daniel Denton, a British missionary, on the Lloyd manor. Except for a brief period during the Revolutionary War, when Joseph Lloyd removed the family to Hartford Connecticut Hammon lived his entire life on Long Island in the Huntington area serving the Lloyds as clerk and bookkeeper There is no surviving indication that Hammon either married or had children The precise date of his death and the location of his grave remain unknown although it is ...

Article

Allen J. Fromherz

was born in Valencia, Spain in Rabi II 595 (according to the Islamic calendar), or January/February 1199, and is considered one of the greatest writers of the twelfth century. His full name, Abu ʿAbd Allah Ibn al-Abbar al QudaʿI, means “Son of the Seller of Sewing Needles,” indicating that his family was probably part of the small-scale merchant class in Muslim Spain.

As a young man Ibn al-Abbar witnessed the devastating battle of Las Navas de Tolosa in 1212 which turned the tide against the Almohads in Muslim Spain Divided and defeated the Muslim west began to fracture His early master Ibn Mardanish ruler in Murcia converted to Christianity possibly as a means of forming an alliance with other Christian rulers and averting the capture of his city Although Ibn al Abbar did not follow his master in converting he had no scruples about working for an ...

Article

Allen J. Fromherz

Egyptian Sufi mystic and poet, was born in Cairo. Most of his early years were spent in the hills to the east of Cairo and in the deserts. Although he started along the same path of his father, an estate lawyer, he felt that dry, legal study of the scripture was insufficient. He abandoned formal schooling. In an act reminiscent of the Christian desert fathers, he spent time in the deserted and empty quarters of Arabia, where he faced trials and had a vision of the Prophet Muhammad. He was praised as a saint when he returned to Cairo and told of his visions. His tomb beneath the mountains near Cairo is a major site of veneration to this day. The diwan, or the collected writings of Ibn al-Farid, is famous primarily for its poetry.

Like many mystic poets and writers Ibn al Farid used images of forbidden pleasures and ...

Article

Arthuree McLaughlin Wright

evangelist and poet, was born Lena Doolin in Quincy, Illinois, to Vaughn Poole Doolin, a black Civil War soldier, and Reida (or Reba) Doolin, a former slave. After the war the Doolin family moved to Hannibal, Missouri. Lena Doolin was the fifth of ten children and grew up with her seven sisters and two brothers in a loving family. Doolin's parents affirmed her as a person and nurtured her in the Christian faith. In January 1872, at the age of seven, she joined the African Methodist Episcopal (AME) Church of Hannibal under the Reverend John Turner Church leaders and family sensed that Lena had a special God ordained purpose for her life at an early age and by age twelve she was able to interpret scripture as effectively as an adult Twice during her youth she felt a nudging from God to preach the Christian ...

Article

A pioneer in fields previously inaccessible to women and African Americans, Pauli Murray was the first African American to be awarded a doctor of judicial science degree from Yale University. A freedom rider in the 1940s who later led student Sit-In demonstrations in Washington, D.C., restaurants, Murray graduated at the top of her class at Howard University. Nominated by the National Council of Negro Women as one of the twelve outstanding women in Negro life in 1945, Murray was the recipient of many honorary degrees and was a founding member of the National Organization for Women. In 1977 she was the first African American woman ordained as a priest of the Episcopal Church.

The daughter of a racially mixed middle-class family, Murray was born in Baltimore, Maryland, the fourth of Agnes Georgianna Fitzgerald Murray and William Henry Murray s six children When Pauli Murray was ...

Article

Sharon Carson

Long recognized as a leading nineteenth-century Christian activist and theologian, Daniel Payne's literary achievements are varied and equally important. From his childhood in Charleston, South Carolina, where he was born to free and deeply religious parents, through his long ministry with the African Methodist Episcopal (AME) Church and eventual presidency of Wilberforce University, Payne pursued a rigorous program of self-directed study. He began to write and teach at an early age, starting his first school in Charleston in 1829 when he was only nineteen years old, and teaching there until 1835, when the South Carolina legislature made it illegal to teach slaves to read or write. Forced to close his school, Payne moved to the North, where he published a collection of poetry in 1850. In The Pleasures and Other Miscellaneous Poems, Payne included a poem heralding the emancipation of the West Indies in 1838 ...

Article

Alessandra Vianello

Somali Islamic scholar and poet both in the Arabic language and in Chimini the vernacular of his hometown was born in Brava a coastal town in southern Somalia in a family that traced its origins to the al Waʾili clan of Southern Arabia Of moderate wealth mainly acquired by trade the family belonged to the learned elite of Brava Sheikh Qasim s father Muhyiddin Maie Ali was a scholar and copyist of the Qurʾan his elder brother Mohammed was a disciple of Sheikh Aweys Mohammed al Qadiri and had accompanied his teacher on his journey to Mecca In a eulogy composed at the time of her death a sister Khadija is remembered as a scholarly woman always with a book under her arm The family tradition was continued in the next generation by the youngest of Sheikh Qasim s sons Mohammed Sheikh Mohammed Sufi who became a renowned Islamic scholar ...

Article

Russell Hopley

poet, littérateur, historian, and court secretary, was born in al-Qayrawan around the time of the Fatimid departure from Ifriqiya to Egypt in 972. His full name was Abu Ishaq Ibrahim ibn al-Qasim al-Raqiq. Al-Raqiq acted as court secretary during a period of some forty years for three Zirid emirs: al-Mansur ibn Buluggin (r. 983–995), Badis (r. 995–1016), and al-Muʿizz (r. 1016–1062 An especially refined personage al Raqiq appears to have played an important role in several diplomatic missions to lands neighboring the Zirid state a number of which were quite sensitive in nature Prominent among these missions was the Zirid embassy to the court of the Fatimid sovereign al Hakim in 998 designed to consolidate the ties that brought these two North African states into alliance with one another It is also reported that al Raqiq accompanied the Zirid army on campaigns in the hinterland of Ifriqiya undertaken to ...