Thurman, Howard W.
- Albert J. Raboteau
theologian and mystic, was born Howard Washington Thurman in Daytona, Florida, the second of three children of Saul Solomon Thurman, who laid railroad track, and Alice Ambrose, a domestic worker. Most sources date his birth year as 1900; the most recent collection of his works gives 1899. Thurman was seven when his father died. Other than his mother, the most influential person upon Thurman's childhood was his grandmother, Nancy Ambrose, a former slave and midwife who helped raise Howard and his two sisters. Thurman remembered her as a devout and strong woman who bolstered the children's self-esteem by teaching them the lesson she had learned from a slave preacher years before, “Remember, you aren't slaves, you aren't niggers, you are God's children” (Thurman, 21).
Walking along the seashore as a child Thurman had a mystical experience of the unity of all living things and ...
A version of this article originally appeared in African American National Biography.