Race/Ethnicity and Religion - Biographies By Last Name
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Abernathy, Ralph

Ralph Abernathy (1926-1990) was an important figure in the civil rights movement. He facilitated the Montgomery bus boycott and worked with Martin Luther King, Jr.

Allen, Richard

Richard Allen (1760-1831) was an influential black minister who established the first black denomination in the United States.

Chavez, Cesar

Cesar Chavez (1927-1993) was a prominent labor leader who fought on behalf of American farm workers.

Deloria, Vine

Best-selling author Vine Deloria, Jr., (1933-2005) was a 20th century champion of Native American autonomy and proponent of indigenous religious traditions.

Farrakhan, Louis

Louis Farrakhan (1933-present) helped revitalize the controversial Nation of Islam in the late 1970s.

Gloucester, John

John Gloucester (1776-1822) founded the first African-American Presbyterian Church and was one of the earliest black Presbyterian ministers.

Healy, James Augustine

James Augustine Healy (1830-1900) was the first Catholic American priest and bishop of African descent.

Hosier, Harry

Harry Hosier (1750-1806) was a renowned public speaker and one of the first licensed black preachers in Methodism.

Jackson, Jesse

Jesse Jackson (1941-present) is a Baptist minister, civil rights advocate, and politician, whose career continues to earn both praise and criticism.

Jakes, Thomas Dexter "T.D."

Thomas Dexter "T.D." Jakes (1957-present) is a popular televised pastor known for his large church services, bestselling books, and cable ministry programs.

King, Martin Luther

Martin Luther King, Jr. (1929-1968) was an African-American Baptist minister and civil rights leader who combined Gandhi’s nonviolent philosophy and Christian love to fight racism.

Lee, Jarena

Jarena Lee (1783-1855) was one of the first black female preachers in America.

Liele, George

George Liele (1750-1828) was the first black Baptist convert in Georgia and founded the first black Baptist church in America at Silver Bluff, South Carolina.

Michaux, Lightfoot Solomon

Known as the "Happy Am I Evangelist," Lightfoot Solomon Michaux (1884-1968) was a popular radio evangelist with a radio program reaching 25 million people nationwide.

Muhammad, Elijah

Elijah Muhammad (1897-1975) was the second leader of the Nation of Islam, overseeing the widespread growth of the Nation of Islam for over four decades.

Occom, Samson

Samson Occom (1723-1792), an evangelical Presbyterian minister from the Mohegan tribe, founded the Indian-Christian community of Brothertown, New York.

Payne, Daniel Alexander

Daniel Alexander Payne (1811-1893) was an African Methodist Episcopal Church bishop and the first black college president in the United States.

Perkins, John

Christian and social justice advocate John Perkins (1930-present) helped provide education, job skills, and health care access to the poor through his ministries.

Sharpton, Alfred "Al"

Alfred “Al” Sharpton (1954-present) is a Baptist minister, civil rights leader, media figure, and politician, who draws public attention to racial issues in America.

Shuttlesworth, Fred

Fred Shuttlesworth (1922-2011) was known as the "most abused and arrested minister in the nation" during the civil rights era.

Suzuki, D.T.

Daisetz Teitaro Suzuki (1870-1966), a Zen Buddhist monk from Japan, helped to personify and explain Zen to a generation of Americans.

Tekakwitha, Kateri

Kateri Tekakwitha (1656-1680) was a Native American Catholic, known for her asceticism and chastity. She was canonized by Pope Benedict XVI in 2012.

the Prophet, Tenskwatawa

Tenskwatawa (1775-1836), also called "The Shawnee Prophet," became the spiritual leader of one of the largest Native American confederations until an 1811 U.S. military defeat.

Thind, Bhagat Singh

Bhagat Singh Thind (1892-1967), a Sant Mat devotee and Indian immigrant, was the subject of an important legal test denying U.S. citizenship to Asian Indians.

Trungpa, Chogyam

Chogyam Trungpa (1939-87) is the founder of the largest Tibetan Buddhist group in America.

Tubman, Harriet

Harriet Tubman (1820-1913), known as the "Moses of her people," helped more than 300 slaves find freedom through the Underground Railroad.

Vivekananda, Swami

Calcutta priest Swami Vivekananda (1863-1902) was the founder of the Vedanta Society, which helped bring Hindu education and yoga to America.

Wheatley, Phillis

Phillis Wheatley (1753-1784) became the first published African-American female poet. Most of her poetry contained religious themes.

Wilson, Jack "Wovoka"

Wovoka (1856-1932), a Paiute mystic also known as Jack Wilson, became the spiritual leader of a Ghost Dance movement that waned after the Wounded Knee Massacre.

Winfrey, Oprah

Billionaire media icon Oprah Winfrey (1954-present) has become the unofficial guru for millions of Americans seeking spiritual and moral guidance beyond traditional religious affiliation.

X, Malcolm

Malcolm X (1925-1965) was an active minister and spokesman for the Nation of Islam from the mid-1950s until 1964.


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