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Patrick Cliff

religious leader known as the “Prophet,” was born in Birmingham, Alabama, the only son of Catherine and James Jones. He was consistently evasive about his youth, though he did speak of being raised by his devoted mother and not by his alcoholic, absentee father (from whom Jones always remained distant). He claimed also to have been called to God at a young age, and at age eighteen he was ordained a minister of Triumph, the Church and Kingdom of God in Christ, an unaffiliated Christian church. While Jones frequently said that the only book he ever touched was the Bible, he claimed to have a degree from Johnson C. Smith University, a black school in Charlotte, North Carolina (hence his fake “Doctor” title). In fact Jones had no degree.

Using Birmingham as a home base, he was an itinerant preacher until 1938 During that time Jones s following ...


Allen J. Fromherz

was one of the most renowned and powerful eunuchs in Islamic history At the height of his powers he ruled over not only Egypt and the Hijaz in present day Saudi Arabia but also Syria Public prayers were offered up for him in the mosques of Mecca Cairo and Damascus Called al Labi by the poet al Muttanabi Abu al Misk Kafur Musky Camphor was probably from the province of Lab in Nubia south of Egypt According to the biographical dictionary of Ibn Khallikan he had a deep black color He was purchased for eighteen pieces of gold by Muhammad ibn Tughj al Ikhshid the Turkish founder of the Ikhshidid dynasty and ruler of the province of Egypt under the Abbasids Kafur quickly proved his military prowess rising quickly through the ranks of the Ikhshidid military apparatus He was a leader in the Ikhshidid military campaigns in Syria in 945 ...


Opal Tometi

Nigerian Muslim woman who gained renown for her involvement in a sharia court case related to her out-of-wedlock pregnancy, came from the small village of Kurami in the state of Katsina, situated in the northern region of Nigeria. Lawal’s father was a Hausa farmer who died when she was a young girl. As a result she was cared for by her mother and lived with several siblings until her mother remarried. She then lived with her mother, her stepfather, his other wife, and several other siblings. She was the youngest of 13 children. Although illiterate because she did not have any formal education, she did study a qurʾanic curriculum for a short period of time.

Lawal was wed at the young age of fourteen and had two children during the course of the twelve year marriage They then divorced and Lawal remarried an older man in his sixties and lived ...


Jeremy Rich

Nigerian activist and religious leader, was born Rowland Jide Macaulay in Islington, London, England. His father was Augustus Olakunde Macaulay, a Nigerian who studied engineering in England in the mid-1960s before returning to his homeland in 1968. Although Macaulay’s father was trained as an engineer, he eventually switched careers and became a theology professor after retiring from a teaching position at the University of Lagos.

Macaulay thus was raised in a conservative Protestant evangelical family One of his brothers became an accountant and another worked like his father as an engineer Macaulay attended primary and secondary school in Nigeria but returned to England to study law By this point Macaulay already considered himself to be a homosexual even though his father shared common Nigerian social mores that considered sexual activity between men as an example of social deviance Macaulay wrestled with his sexual orientation through his adolescent years and ...


Meghan Elisabeth Healy

founder of the Bantu Women’s League (BWL) and African Methodist Episcopal Church (AME) missionary, was born Charlotte Manye near Fort Beaufort, Cape Colony, on 7 April 1874. The first of six children born to Christian parents, Charlotte Manye received her early schooling near Port Elizabeth, from the Xhosa intellectuals Isaac Wauchope and Paul Xiniwe. In the late 1880s her family moved to the diamond-mining town of Kimberley, where she and her younger sister Kate distinguished themselves as singers in a Free Church of Scotland choir.

From 1891 to 1893 Charlotte and Kate Manye toured Britain with the African Jubilee Choir also known as the African Native Choir Charlotte Manye continued with the choir for an American tour Kate married in Johannesburg and then moved to Durban where she served as an interpreter and doctor s assistant at McCord Zulu Hospital an experience that has been recorded in ...


Kathleen Sheldon

Ghanaian theologian, was born into an Asante Christian family. All of her grandparents were Methodists, and her father, Charles Kwaw Yamoah, was a pastor and the president of the Methodist Church of Ghana. Oduyoye attended secondary school at Achimota in Ghana and the Teacher Training College in Kumasi, after which she taught at the Asawase Methodist Girls’ School. In 1959 she entered the University of Ghana at Legon, earning a degree in theology in 1963, followed by studies in dogmatics at Newnham College, University of Cambridge, where she earned a second bachelor’s degree. After marrying Adedoyin Modupe Oduyoye in 1968, they moved to Nigeria where she was the first woman lecturer in the Department of Religious Studies at the University of Ibadan. One of her first publications was a pamphlet that raised the question of women’s role in the church, entitled And Women Where Do They Come In ...


Victor Anderson

Compared to the historic “Negro church,” the term “black church” is a rather recent nomenclature among historical and sociological researchers such as W. E. B. Du Bois, Carter G. Woodson, E. Franklin Frazier, Benjamin Elijah Mays, and C. Eric Lincoln With the Black Consciousness Black Power and New Black Aesthetic movements of the 1960s and 1970s the so called Negro church became the black church Generally speaking the black church may refer to any religious fellowship whose majority memberships are black regardless of denomination This includes blacks in predominantly white denominations However sociologically speaking the black church designates the major historically black denominations as African Methodist Episcopal AME African Methodist Episcopal Zion AMEZ National Baptist Convention NBC National Baptist Convention of America NBCA Progressive National Baptist Convention PNBC or Church of God in Christ COGIC The black church in the United States makes up more ...


Nell Irvin Painter

Sojourner Truth, born a slave in Ulster County, New York, a symbol of women's strength and black women's womanliness, is summed up in the phrase “ar'n't I a woman?” Known as Isabella VanWagener until 1843, she changed her name and became an itinerant preacher under the influence of Millerite Second Adventism.

In the 1840s Truth encountered feminist abolitionism during her stay in the Northampton (Mass.) Association of Education and Industry. There she met Olive Gilbert, who recorded The Narrative of Sojourner Truth: A Bondswoman of Olden Time, which Truth published in Boston in 1850. During the 1850s and 1860s sales to antislavery and feminist audiences of this narrative provided Truth's main source of income. Truth attended the 1851 Akron, Ohio, convention on women's rights in order to sell her book. The chair of that meeting, Frances Dana Gage wrote the most popular version of ...

Primary Source

In 1894, Julia Foote (1823?–1900) became the first woman ordained a deacon in the African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church. The ordination came after decades spent preaching in the male-dominated ministry, a career that she claimed sprung from a spiritual experience induced by an unexplained illness. Despite her popularity, male leaders spent years resisting her attempts to foster equality among the clergy; at one point, her own husband threatened to send her to an asylum if she continued to preach. Foote’s most reliable means for arguing against this discrimination was to appeal to scripture, as evidenced in the excerpt below from her memoir, A Brand Plucked from the Fire (1879). Here, she describes the experiences of prominent women from the New Testament to make the point that gender should have no place in determining who can experience a call to preach and who cannot.