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Islamic jurist born to an Arab family with origins in the region of Jazira Sharik present day Cap Bon Tunisia A close companion and later rival of the North African jurist Abu ʿImran al Fasi d 1039 Abu Bakr ibn ʿAbd al Rahman was fortunate to receive his early education in al Qayrawan under two eminent scholars of Islamic law Ibn Abi Zayd al Qayrawani d 996 and Abu al Hasan al Qabisi d 1012 Abu Bakr was considered to be among the most talented of al Qabisi s many pupils and it was under his tutelage that Abu Bakr learned to compose Islamic legal opinions otherwise known as fatwas He subsequently embarked on the journey eastward in 987 both to undertake the pilgrimage to Mecca and to further his education with established scholars in the cultural capitals of the Islamic east Abu Bakr is reported to have spent time ...

Article

Elizabeth Heath

Ahmad Baba was one of the best-known Islamic scholars and writers of his time. Born into the prestigious Aqit family near Tombouctou (Timbuktu) in 1556, he was educated in Islamic theology and law. After completing his studies, he began writing books and treatises on theology, Islamic jurisprudence, history, and Arabic grammar. Over the course of his life he wrote more than fifty-six works. More than half of these are still in existence, and several are still used by West African ulama (scholars). Ahmad Baba also was a great collector of books; he amassed a library containing thousands of volumes. At this time, Tombouctou, ruled by the Songhai empire, was renowned throughout the Islamic world as a center of learning.

In 1591 the sultan of Morocco invaded Tombouctou. Ahmad Baba and other scholars refused to serve the Moroccan rulers and, by some accounts, instigated a 1593 rebellion against ...

Article

religious teacher and expert in Islamic law in Timbuktu, was born 26 October 1556 in the village of Araouane, a few days north of Timbuktu by camel caravan. His full name was Abu al-Abbas Ahmad Baba ibn Ahmad ibn Ahmad ibn ʿUmar ibn Muhammad Aqit al-Sinhaji, al-Tinbukti. His father was Ahmad (1522–1583), his grandfather al hajj Ahmad (1458–1535), and his great grandfather Umar, the son of Muhammad Aqit, the celebrated patriarch of the Masufa Tuareg clan of Aqit (one of the most powerful families of Timbuktu).

Ahmad Baba was raised in Timbuktu, where he studied the hadith and Islamic law with his father and other Aqit family members. His most influential teacher was the famous scholar and historical figure Mahmud Bagayogo, author of numerous qurʾanic commentaries, whose acts of courage are recorded in al hajj Mahmud Kati’s Tarikh al fattash Prior to the Moroccan invasion ...

Article

Nathan Zook

minister, civil rights leader, and member of the Louisiana House of Representatives, was born Avery Caesar Alexander in the town of Houma in Terrebonne Parish, Louisiana, to a family of sharecroppers. The names of his parents are not known. Seventeen years later, his family moved to New Orleans. Avery Alexander maintained an active life there and in Baton Rouge for the next seventy-two years.

Prior to his election to the Louisiana legislature, Alexander was employed as a longshoreman. At the same time, he pursued an education by taking night courses, receiving his high school diploma from Gilbert Academy in 1939. He became politically active by working as a labor union operative for a longshoreman's union, Local 1419. He also held the occupations of real estate broker and insurance agent.

Alexander received a degree in theology from Union Baptist Theological Seminary and became an ordained Baptist minister ...

Article

James Jankowski

Egyptian lawyer, politician, and champion of Arab and Muslim causes, was probably born between 1875 and 1878 (he himself was not sure of the date) in al-Minya province, where his father was a school principal. The family later moved to Asyut where his father entered commerce and became a mill owner. After attending a kuttab, in 1890 he enrolled in the Khedivial Secondary School in Cairo. He graduated in 1895 and progressed to the Khedivial School of Law, from which he graduated in 1899 and entered law practice in Asyut. Known for much of his life simply as Muhammad ʿAli, “ʿAlluba” was a surname he had legally registered in 1931 to distinguish him from others.

ʿAlluba’s political sympathies originally lay with the Nationalist Party founded by Mustafa Kamil. He entered national politics when he was elected to the new Legislative Assembly in 1914 At the end of World ...

Article

Eric Fournier

Christian bishop. What we know about Alypius of Thagaste comes mainly from Augustine’s Confessions and Letters Born into a curial family in the Roman town of Thagaste present day Souk Ahras Algeria in the province of Numidia Alypius whose name seems to indicate Greek origins was younger than Augustine born in 354 CE Augustine was also Alypius s teacher first in Thagaste around 374 376 then in Carthage around 380 But Alypius was soon captivated by the Roman games the gladiators and the chariot races in particular and stopped attending Augustine s lessons because of an undisclosed argument between his father and his teacher Alypius quickly resumed attending despite his father s injunction however and one day as he entered the classroom Augustine used the example of someone attending the games to make a point which convinced Alypius to change his ways Among the group of students who studied ...

Article

John Saillant

of the village of Fifth Company, Trinidad, has often been considered the first Trinidadian to advocate constitutional reform and legislative independence. He spoke for elections for legislators when he testified in 1888 to the British Royal Commission on the franchise. A petition to the Secretary of State for the Colonies, which Andrews signed on behalf of residents of Fifth Company, spurred formation of a commission to investigate local conditions and to consider a franchise. Andrews criticized the lack of British support for modern roads and asserted that if men voted for legislators the government would respond to local imperatives. Trinidad’s Legislative Council, first seated in 1831, consisted of imperial officials and men appointed by the governor; none were elected until 1925 The commission recommended against a franchise Andrews became a hero posthumously as Trinidad moved toward independence He should be understood not only in the context of constitutional ...

Article

Sheila T. Gregory

radio and television pioneer, Masonic Christian Order founder, ordained Baptist minister, lawyer, community advocate, and business leader, was born on a sharecroppers' farm in Geneva, Kentucky, the son of Richard and Clara Banks, both tenant farmers. In June 1922 Banks graduated from the Lincoln Institute of Kentucky and moved to Detroit, Michigan, where he secured a job at the Dodge automobile main plant. He graduated from Wayne State University in 1926 and the Detroit College of Law in 1929. He briefly opened a criminal law practice, but after two years he discontinued his criminal work and invested in property during the Depression, while helping elect liberal Democrat and future Supreme Court justice Frank Murphy as Detroit's mayor in 1930.

In 1931 Banks was the head of the International Labor Defense League ILDL a legal organization known for defending numerous labor unions which at that time were ...

Article

Patricia Reid-Merritt

social activist and spiritual adviser, was born Willie Taplin in the small rural town of Burton, Texas, the daughter of Nelson Taplin, a Baptist preacher, and Octavia, a Methodist congregant. A member of a large extended family, Barrow fondly recalled an upbringing steeped in strict traditional family values and old-time southern religion. She lived with her parents, six siblings, both sets of grandparents, and a great-grandmother in the family home, and they were sometimes joined by a cousin or two in need of temporary housing. The family lived together, worked together, and went to church together. Although they had limited economic resources, they grew the food that they needed on the family farm, and though she came to understand the family's poverty in later years, Barrow said that she never knew hunger as a child.

Barrow discovered her activist voice and spirit early in life Under the state sponsored ...

Article

Eric Bennett

Ahmadu Bello was a descendant of royal blood: his grandfather, Atiku na Rabah, was the seventh sultan of Sokoto in the years 1873–1877; his great-great-grandfather, Usuman dan Fodio (1754–1817), founded and ruled the Sokoto Caliphate. Throughout his life, Bello relied on his illustrious ancestry as a source of political power.

Bello studied at the Sokoto provincial school and then trained as a teacher at Katsina College. He received less Western education than did other prominent Nigerian politicians. Nevertheless, his status and family connections smoothed his ascent to power. Although his cousin Abubakar beat him out for the highest traditional position, the sultanate of Sokoto, Abubakar granted Bello the high position of sardauna, or military commander of the caliphate.

As regional administrator and sardauna, Bello achieved considerable power during the 1940s. His most significant advance, however, came with his membership in the Northern People’s Congress (NPC) in 1951 Shortly ...

Article

Alonford James Robinson

Paul Bogle is a beloved figure in Jamaica. Although his legal status at the time of his birth is unclear, most scholars believe that he was born free in Stony Gut, Jamaica, in 1822. He operated a small independent farm there and became a lay preacher in the Native Baptist Church. His affiliation with this antislavery branch of the Baptist Church brought him into contact with British and Jamaican abolitionists, including activist George Gordon. Methodist and Baptist leaders, as well as leaders of other religious denominations, were active participants in the antislavery struggle. As a result, members of local black congregations like Bogle's were often exposed to antislavery debates, pamphlets, and sermons.

When slavery was abolished in 1834 blacks in Jamaica were promised freedom at the end of what turned out to be a four year period known as apprenticeship The apprenticeship policy forced slaves ...

Article

William C. Hine

Richard Harvey Cain was born to free parents in Greenbriar County, Virginia (now West Virginia). In 1831 his family moved to Gallipolis, Ohio. Cain was educated at local schools and worked on an Ohio River steamboat before being licensed to preach in the Methodist Episcopal church in 1844. Complaining of racial discrimination in the church, he resigned and joined the African Methodist Episcopal Church. Assigned a pulpit in Muscatine, Iowa, he was ordained a deacon in 1859. He returned to Ohio and in 1860 attended Wilberforce University. From 1861 to 1865 he served as pastor at Bridge Street Church in Brooklyn, New York, and was elevated to elder in 1862. He participated in the 1864 national black convention in Syracuse, New York, which advocated abolition, equality before the law, and universal manhood suffrage. He married Laura (maiden name unknown), and they adopted a daughter.

In ...

Article

Alonford James Robinson

Francis Cardozo was born free in Charleston, South Carolina, to prominent Jewish businessman and economist Isaac N. Cardozo and a free African American woman whose name is unknown. Cardozo was trained as a carpenter, but at age twenty-one he studied for the ministry at the University of Glasgow in Scotland and at seminaries in Edinburgh, Scotland, and London, England. He won awards for his mastery of Greek and Latin. Cardozo returned to the United States as minister of Temple Street Congregational Church in New Haven, Connecticut. In 1865, as a member of the American Missionary Association, he became principal of the Saxton School in Charleston. In 1866 he helped establish and became superintendent of the Avery Normal Institute, a school in Charleston to train African American teachers.

In 1868 Cardozo became involved in politics acting as a delegate to the South Carolina state constitutional convention As secretary ...

Article

Trevor Hall

who defended Native American rights and promoted African slavery, only to later condemn it, was born in Seville, Spain. His father, Pedro de Las Casas, had sailed to the Americas as a merchant on Christopher Columbus’s second voyage. He was educated in law at the University of Salamanca. Las Casas is renowned because he recommended that the Spanish king purchase enslaved Africans from Portuguese merchants and ship them from Portuguese colonies in West Africa directly to the Spanish Caribbean. In 1493 Las Casas was living in Seville, where he witnessed the arrival of Columbus following his maiden voyage to the Americas. Columbus brought a number of exotic, colorful tropical birds and a dozen half-naked Native Americans back with him. To fifteenth-century Spaniards, half-naked people were savages. The experience has a profound effect on the young Spaniard.

In 1502 Las Casas boarded an armada that sailed from Spain to Hispaniola ...

Article

Robert Fay

Lebna Dengel, who was born in Ethiopia, assumed the throne at the age of twelve, after the death of his father. During his early reign his mother, Helena, served as regent. In 1516 the Muslim sultanate of Adal rebelled against Ethiopian domination, but Lebna Dengel’s forces defeated the rebellion. The queen regent, however, feared Muslim expansion, and turned to Portugal for aid. A Portuguese mission arrived in 1520. Some accounts suggest that the emperor sought a relationship with the Portuguese as a means of ending Ethiopia’s isolation and acquiring European technology. Others sources, however, imply that Lebna Dengel was unimpressed by the Portuguese visitors, whom he allegedly treated with cool disregard. Sources also disagree about the nature of Lebna Dengel s reign Some scholars emphasize his devotion to Christianity and claim that his rule was based on justice and mercy while others assert that he was ...

Article

Raymond Pierre Hylton

legislator, pastor, and civil rights activist, was born in Washington, D.C., the son of William Thomas Fauntroy and Ethel Vines Fauntroy. His father worked in the U.S. Patent Office. Upon graduating from Dunbar High School in 1952, Fauntroy entered Virginia Union University in Richmond, Virginia. While there he received strong support and encouragement from his pastor, the Reverend Charles David Foster, and he graduated from Virginia Union in 1955 with a BA in History. He received a scholarship to attend Yale University Divinity School, where he earned a bachelor of divinity degree in 1958. In 1959 when his longtime mentor the Reverend Foster died, Fauntroy was named to succeed him as pastor at New Bethel Baptist Church. He married Dorothy Simms on August 3, 1957, and the couple had a son, Marvin Keith, and a daughter, Melissa Alice.

During his ...

Article

Richard D. Starnes

Thomas Oscar Fuller was born in Franklinton, North Carolina, the son of J. Henderson Fuller and Mary Elizabeth (maiden name unknown). Fuller's father was a former slave who had purchased his freedom and later his wife's with money earned as a skilled wheelwright and carpenter. While a slave, the elder Fuller taught himself to read, and after the Civil War he became active in Republican politics. During Reconstruction he served as a delegate to the 1868 state Republican convention and as a local magistrate.

Fuller completed his primary education in local schools and subsequently attended the Franklinton Normal School, an institution founded to educate black teachers. He graduated from Shaw University in 1890 and received a Master of Arts from the same institution in 1893. After graduation, Fuller simultaneously pursued careers in education and the ministry. Raised in a devoutly religious family, he was ordained as a Baptist ...

Article

Richard D. Starnes

educator, clergyman, and politician, was born in Franklinton, North Carolina, the son of J. Henderson Fuller and Mary Elizabeth (maiden name unknown). Fuller's father was a former slave who had purchased his freedom and later his wife's with money earned as a skilled wheelwright and carpenter. As a slave, the elder Fuller taught himself to read, and after the Civil War he became active in Republican politics. During Reconstruction he served as a delegate to the 1868 state Republican convention and as a local magistrate.

Fuller completed his primary education in local schools and subsequently attended the Franklinton Normal School, an institution founded to educate black teachers. He graduated from Shaw University in 1890 and received a Master of Arts from the same institution in 1893 After graduation Fuller simultaneously pursued careers in education and the ministry Raised in a devoutly religious family he was ordained ...

Article

Joe M. Richardson

Jonathan C. Gibbs was born free in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, the son of Maria Jackson and Jonathan C. Gibbs, a Methodist minister. He learned carpentry as a youth and followed that trade until the Presbyterian Assembly helped him enroll at Dartmouth College in 1848. Gibbs, who was one of only two black students at Dartmouth, claimed that he had been rejected by eighteen colleges before being accepted. After graduating from Dartmouth in 1852 he attended the Princeton Theological Seminary. He was ordained as a Presbyterian minister and pastored churches in Troy, New York, and in Philadelphia. While in New York Gibbs campaigned for the extension of black suffrage in the state. When he moved to Philadelphia in 1859 he became prominent in the local Underground Railroad. During the Civil War he joined the freedmen s relief efforts campaigned against segregated city streetcars encouraged black enlistments in the ...

Article

David P. Johnson

According to legend, the Golden Stool—sika ‘dwa in the Akan language of the Asante—descended from heaven in a cloud of white dust and landed in the lap of Osei Tutu (the first Asante king) in the late 1600s. The king’s priest, Okomfo Anokye, proclaimed that henceforth the strength and unity of the Asante people depended upon the safety of the Golden Stool. Drawing upon the Akan tradition of a stool indicating clan leadership, the Golden Stool became the symbol of the united Asante people and legitimized the rule of its possessor. To defend the stool in 1900, the Asante battled the British in the so-called Yaa Asantewa War. The Asante chose to let the British exile the Asante’s last sovereign king, Prempeh I, rather than surrender the stool. Today the Golden Stool is housed in the Asante royal palace in Kumasi, Ghana The stool leaves the palace ...