African American Religious Leaders (Black Stars) by Jim Haskins, Kathleen Benson

By Jim Haskins, Kathleen Benson

BLACK STARSMeet the black spiritual leaders who helpedshape the African American experience--from colonial to fashionable occasions* Absalom Jones* Richard Allen* Jarena Lee* Lemuel Haynes* Peter Williams Sr.* Peter Williams Jr.* John Marrant* Denmark Vesey* Sojourner fact* Nat Turner* Maria Stewart* John Jasper* Alexander Crummell* Henry Highland Garnett* Henry McNeal Turner* Richard Henry Boyd* Bishop C. M. "Sweet Daddy" Grace* Vernon Johns* Elijah Muhammad* Howard Thurman* Adam Clayton Powell Jr.* Joseph E. Lowery* Malcolm X* Martin Luther King Jr.* Andrew J. younger* James L. Bevel* John Lewis* Prathia corridor Wynn* Jesse L. Jackson* Vashti Murphy McKenzie* Fredrick J. Streets* Al Sharpton* Renita J. Weems* T. D. Jakes

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All African societies recognized the power of ancestors and of their ties to others in the group. Some societies were guided by special priests; in other societies the ruler was a sacred figure. Some societies worshipped one god; others, many gods. By the time European nations established the slave trade on the west coast of Africa, Islam had made major inroads on the continent. , North Africans from the Arabian Peninsula had sailed down the eastern coast of the continent and crossed the vast Sahara Desert to trade with the African peoples.

They looked down on him with his high-emotion preaching and his ungrammatical way of speaking. They considered him an embarrassment. They thought they could quiet him. But Jasper would not be cowed. In fact, he questioned the faith of the educated, well-spoken black preachers. Ebenezer Baptist Church called a conference to discuss the issue and summoned Jasper to attend. He refused, saying that the church had no right to interfere. Letters and articles appeared in local papers and in periodicals as far away as Europe.

The entire family might have remained enslaved for life if Denmark Vesey had not been lucky as well as clever. In 1799, he won $600 in a lottery and was able to purchase his freedom. He probably chose to purchase himself rather than his wife so that he could then work to buy her freedom and subsequently that of his children. Vesey attended Second Presbyterian Church, sitting in a special section reserved for slaves, or perhaps attending separate services. He did not leave the Presbyterian Church when a Methodist church was started in Charleston, but he knew many enslaved people who did.

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