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Article

Vincent F. A. Golphin

the seventh African American to be named a Roman Catholic bishop in the twentieth century, was born in Selma, Alabama, the eldest son of Nancy King and Henry Anderson. He attended Payne and Clarke Elementary Schools, then went to Knox Academy High School in Selma, where the class of 1949 chose him valedictorian.

Born on the eve of the Great Depression, Anderson came into a life of financial desperation and racial fears caused by hard-drawn racial, religious, class, and caste divisions. Poverty and color lines were thick in Selma, and the teenager was inspired by the white Roman Catholic missionaries of the Society of St. Edmund who came south to aid black development. They and the Sisters of St. Joseph of Rochester, New York, arrived in Selma in 1937 and built a hospital school and youth outreach center in response to Pope Pius XI s call for Catholics to ...

Article

Jeremy Rich

religious and educational leader, was born to a family of chiefs in the town of Rusengo in eastern Burundi. The names and occupations of his parents are not known. He attended primary school in Rusengo from 1927 to 1933 and completed his secondary education at the Mugera seminary from 1933 to 1939. Barakana then decided to complete his theological training to become a Roman Catholic priest. He underwent training at the seminary in Nyakibanda from 1939 to 1947 and was ordained on 25 July 1947. Soon afterward, he went to the Vatican to study for a doctorate in canon law, which he received in 1950. Barakana thus became the first Burundian to ever receive a doctorate. Barakana decided to join the Jesuit Catholic religious order and officially became a member of this order on 20 May 1953 at Djuma in the Democratic Republic of the Congo ...

Article

Bairu Tafla

prominent Ethiopian church scholar, monastic head, and first Ethiopian archbishop and patriarch, was renowned for his chastity, his religious devotion, and his unflinching loyalty to Emperor Haile Selassie I rather than for his reforms and/or teachings.

Like most Ethiopian dignitaries, his early life is obscure. The available sources give different years ranging from 1877 to 1892 as his birth date. Similarly, a document of the Orthodox Churches Conference in Addis Ababa asserts that he stayed in exile in Jerusalem during the Italian invasion while Baʿeda-Maryam, who wrote a doctoral dissertation on his biography, asserts that he was a fugitive in his own country. There are also discrepancies in the dates of his early ordinations and appointments.

Son of Debtera (church precentor) Wolde Tsadeq Selomon and Emmet lady usually a widow Wolette Maryam Bayyu Gebre Giyorgis as Basilios was known before he became patriarch was born in the subdistrict of Metta ...

Article

Kathryn Lofton

pastor of the historic Abyssinian Baptist Church in Harlem, New York, and president of the State University of New York College at Old Westbury. From the pastoral post long held by Congressman Adam Clayton Powell Jr. (1908–1972), Calvin Otis Butts III developed a model of financial revitalization mirrored by other late-twentieth-century black churches struggling to sustain their communities and retain political influence in the post–civil rights era.

Born in New York City and educated at Morehouse College, Union Theological Seminary, and Drew University, Butts began his career in 1972 as associate pastor of Abyssinian. Upon being named head pastor in 1989 Butts consolidated the economic interests of his church into the Abyssinian Development Corporation ADC which has managed more than $300 million in housing and commercial development in Harlem as well as several social service operations including a transitional shelter a family services program and a tenant ...

Article

Don E. Walicek

was born on 16 May 1927 into a middle-class family in Port-au-Prince, Haiti. His father, Montrosier Dejean, was an accountant who served for a time as the nation’s minister of finance, and his mother, Maria Parisot, was a homemaker. After completing his early education in Haiti, Dejean moved to New England, where he studied theology and thereafter entered the priesthood. He later returned to Haiti and served as a parish priest of Port-Salut for almost a decade. There, as the linguist Arthur Spears (2010) notes, Dejean used Haitian Creole with parishioners and translated the four Gospels from Greek into Haitian Creole. These experiences motivated him to pursue a graduate degree in language and linguistics. He earned an M.A. in biblical Hebrew from Johns Hopkins University in 1964 He returned home shortly thereafter but the violence of the François Duvalier regime forced him into exile in Paris five ...

Article

Hassoum Ceesay

religious leader, diplomat, cabinet minister, educationist, and ardent nationalist, also known as J. C. or Reverend Faye, was born in Bathurst (present-day Banjul, Gambia) to Wolof and Serer parents. His father was a shipwright and his mother a housewife. Faye attended St. Mary’s Elementary School and the Methodist Boys High School in Banjul, where he completed his studies in 1926. He got his teachers’ certificate in 1927. From 1927 to 1942, he taught at various mission schools in Bathurst, the capital and main administrative center of the British colony of Gambia.

In 1942 Faye helped start the famous Kristikunda School in Kantora in the Upper River Division of Gambia opening the gates of education to the people living in the Gambian interior which the British ruled as a protectorate The school whose name in the local Fula language means Christ s home was a bold experiment in ...

Article

LaVerne Gray

minister, politician, educator, and writer. After serving as a U.S. representative from New York, Flake became the minister and leader of New York City's largest African American church, the Greater Allen African Methodist Episcopal Cathedral in Queens. He elevated the membership to over eighteen thousand and assisted the economic growth of the church through concentrated efforts in community development. In 2002 Flake became president of Wilberforce University, one the oldest historically black colleges, in Ohio. He worked in the private, educational, and government sectors while simultaneously serving in the church.

Floyd Harold Flake was born in Los Angeles, the third of thirteen children born to Robert Flake, a janitor, and Rosie Lee Flake a homemaker When Flake was still small the family relocated to Houston Texas Growing up Flake was resourceful and his parents stressed a strong work ethic He was always working delivering ...

Article

David Michel

was born on 3 April 1934 in Morgan Forest, Jamaica. His mother was a member of the Church of God (COG), which had begun work in Jamaica in 1918. The COG is a predominantly white Pentecostal denomination based in Cleveland, Tennessee that welcomes women ministers as evangelists and practices faith healing. Saved in 1952, Grey was later baptized and became a member of the Aenon Town COG. He started to preach and got elected deacon at the same church.

In 1955 the COG organized its first two congregations in Wolverhampton and Birmingham, England. The following year Grey moved to Leeds and worked as a bus conductor. In 1958 he married his first wife, Phebe Joanna Betty, a teacher, with whom he had twelve children. In April 1959 Grey began prayer meetings in Leeds which the COG in England formally organized as a new congregation with Grey as ...

Article

Greg Sidberry

civil rights leader. Benjamin Hooks was born in Memphis, Tennessee, to Robert B. Hooks Sr., a self-made businessman and co-owner of the Hooks Brothers’ Photography Studio, which closed in 1939 but reopened after the depression. His mother, Bessie White, was a stay-at-home mother of seven children. Despite the existence of institutionalized racism, Hooks's family expected him to excel without offering excuses. He learned to read at an early age and, before starting high school, had read all of the classics found in their small home library. Reading—especially newspapers—was the primary source of information and entertainment for the family. Dinnertime was family discussion time; each child had an opportunity to participate as current events and daily activities were reviewed and analyzed. Hooks says he heard repeatedly: “You got to be twice as good.”

Benjamin skipped the sixth and was promoted out of the seventh grade He started Booker T Washington High ...

Article

Mordecai Wyatt Johnson was born in Paris, Tennessee. In 1911 he received a B.A. degree from Atlanta Baptist College (now Morehouse College), and subsequently taught several courses there, including English, history, and economics. He then enrolled at the University of Chicago, where he took a second B.A. degree, in social sciences, in 1913. A third B.A. degree, in divinity, came from Rochester Theological Seminary three years later. For the next several years he served as pastor of a Baptist church in Charleston, West Virginia, and organized Charleston's first office of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP). In the early 1920s he returned to school, first at Harvard Divinity School, where he was awarded a M.A. degree in theology in 1922, then at Howard University, where he received a Ph.D. degree in theology in 1923 Supported by the Young Men s Christian ...

Article

Robert D. Young

Egyptian religious authority, was born 12 May 1910 in Abu Hammad, Sharqiyya governate, Egypt. His father was an Azharite judge. Thus, Mahmud had the ancestral and familial support elements indicative of local elite status. However, it was Mahmud’s precociousness that may have led him to later become spiritual imam and religious leader for Islamic moderation in Egypt. Mahmud memorized the Qurʾan at such an early age that he was not yet eligible to attend religious school in the local village. By age 13, Mahmud moved with his father to Cairo to enroll in Azharite primary school. Egypt’s school system was organized primarily as religious schools of instruction; Azharite schools include primary, secondary, prep, and university levels, with the culmination being al-Azhar University in Cairo. Mahmud continued to advance quickly through the educational system, graduating from al-Azhar University in 1932.

After graduation Mahmud continued his advanced education moving to the ...

Article

was born to Louis Philippe Jesius Marcelin and Marie Delinois Marcelin on 25 February 1936 in Les Cayes, Haiti. He was raised Catholic and studied for the priesthood for three years under the Oblates of Mary Immaculate, a Catholic order.

In 1956 Marcelin converted and joined the Church of God (COG), a Pentecostal group with headquarters in Cleveland, Tennessee, that began work in Haiti in 1933. In 1957 Marcelin entered the Church of God Biblical Seminary, founded the year before, in Bourdon, Haiti. In 1963 he joined the seminary faculty and married Marie Andrée Manoly, an early graduate of the seminary, with whom he had five children. Marcelin founded the first COG congregation in Bourdon, for which he was the pastor for over a decade.

Marcelin was promoted first to censeur (director of studies), and then to COG Education Director in 1974 In this latter position he supervised ...

Article

Wayne C. Solomon

was born in Iere Village Princes Town, Trinidad, to Sonny Mohammed and Koolsum Ali Mohammed. His family were the descendants of indentured servants and contract workers, brought from various parts of India in the mid-nineteenth century, to cultivate sugar cane by British planters, after the end of slavery in Trinidad. The East Indians, as they were called by the British, to distinguish them from the indigenous settlers (commonly called Indians), were imported as an alternative labor source in Trinidad and other British colonies following the emancipation of enslaved Africans in 1833. In 1938, the year of Mohammed’s birth, Trinidad witnessed a wave of protests by Indian- and African-descended laborers, the prelude to the island’s eventual independence from British rule in 1962, under its first prime minister, Eric Williams.

Mohammed was born into a Muslim family His grandfather wanted him to become a Muslim scholar Among the ...

Article

F. Finley McRae

African Methodist Episcopal (AME) minister, university professor, non-profit developer, and community leader, was born in Lakeland, Florida, to Edward and Janie Belle Williams Murray.

Strongly influenced by his father, a respected high school principal in West Palm Beach, Florida, Cecil, early in life, learned the urgency of social and political activism for African Americans, their economic status notwithstanding. He also experienced racial violence at close quarters during his childhood. Dr. Murray, in an August 1992Los Angeles Times Sunday Magazine article, recalled that he and his brother, Edward, witnessed a violent confrontation between a pack of white racists and Principal Murray. The whites were terrorizing poor blacks who walked long miles for government issued food. Principal Murray, believing he could reason with them, attempted to intervene, only to be rejected. They replied by punching and kicking him and bashing his head into the ground.

Murray s ...

Article

Davison M. Douglas

civil rights and women's rights activist, lawyer, poet, writer, teacher, and Episcopal priest. Anna Pauline (Pauli) Murray was born in Baltimore in 1910, the fourth of six children of Agnes Fitzgerald Murray, a nurse, and William Murray, a schoolteacher. When Murray was three years old, her mother died of a cerebral hemorrhage and she was adopted by her mother's sister, Pauline Fitzgerald Dame, a schoolteacher in Durham, North Carolina. Dame took Murray to live with her in the Durham home of Murray's maternal grandparents, Robert and Cornelia Fitzgerald. Murray would see her father only one more time before his death. In 1923, while a patient at a mental hospital in Maryland, William Murray was murdered by a white hospital guard.

After graduating from a segregated high school in Durham Murray moved to New York City to pursue additional education away from the segregated South ...

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

Born in Baltimore, Pauli Murray was orphaned at age three and raised by her mother's sister in the home of her maternal grandparents (the Fitzgeralds) in Durham, North Carolina. The Fitzgerald family had a profound influence on Murray throughout her life. The aunt who raised her was a teacher, and Murray learned to read and write at a very early age. Her grandfather, wounded in the Civil War as a Union soldier, and among those who set up the first schools for free blacks in North Carolina and Virginia, and her grandmother, daughter of a prominent white North Carolinian and a slave woman, served as strong examples of fortitude. Education, equal rights, and personal faith and courage are themes connecting the various spheres of Murray's work and life.

Murray received her BA from Hunter College in New York in 1933 with an English major and a minor in history ...

Article

Susan M. Hartmann

Anna Pauline Murray led and contributed to the most important social movements transforming American life in the middle third of the twentieth century. She was born in Baltimore, Maryland, the fourth of six children of Agnes Fitzgerald, a graduate of the Hampton Training School for Nurses, and William H. Murray, a Howard University graduate and teacher and principal in Baltimore’s segregated schools. Murray’s light skin reflected the mixed racial heritage of both parents. Her mother’s death when she was three and her father’s ill health caused her to be sent to Durham, North Carolina, in 1914. There she was adopted by her aunt Pauline Fitzgerald Dame, a schoolteacher, and grew up in the modestly middle-class household of her maternal grandparents and another aunt. After graduating from high school, determined to attend an integrated college, she moved to New York City in 1928 and enrolled ...

Article

Charles Rosenberg

the son of William Henry and Emma Kersands Nelson, who were both also born in Kentucky. W. H. Stuart was a physician. The family moved to Paducah, where Stuart grew up and graduated from Lincoln High School.

Nelson entered Howard University, but his studies were interrupted by military service in World War I. He achieved the rank of lieutenant as a combat officer in the 367th Infantry, 92nd Division. Army unit assignments being segregated by race, the division was entirely made up of soldiers of African descent, except a few white officers in the upper echelons. Soldiers in the division earned twenty-one distinguished service crosses. Stuart’s father died in 1918 of acute nephritis, and his widowed mother joined him in Washington, D.C. after he was discharged from the Army.

Nelson graduated from Howard University in 1920 He and his mother age fifty were lodgers in the home of Angus ...

Article

Jérôme Souty

within Brazilian Candomblé, master of divination through the Ifá system (oluô or babalaô) and secondary schoolteacher, was born in Luanda, Angola, on 8 September 1907. Agenor was the son of a Portuguese couple, practicing Catholics. His mother Zulmira Miranda was an opera singer, and at the time of Agenor’s birth, his father Antonio Rocha was a diplomatic official of the Embassy of Brazil in Angola. The child was registered as Brazilian.

A few months before Agenor’s birth, an Angolan member of the local traditional religious cult calundu supposedly sent an unusual message to the prospective parents: they would bear a son destined to a religious career, who would be born one month premature and would have a red spot on his head. When the last two predictions came true, the parents honored their promise to let the man give an herbal bath to the newborn.

Agenor was ...