This Far by Faith




About the Series

People of Faith

Albert Cleage James Cone Warith Deen Mohammed Thomas Dorsey Frederick Douglass Olaudah Equiano Prathia Hall Daniel Payne Howard Thurman Sojourner Truth Henry McNeal Turner Denmark Vesey Cecil Williams

ALBERT CLEAGE: 1911-2000 back to top
Albert Cleage

Albert Cleage is best known for founding the Shrine of the Black Madonna in Detroit, MI. Cleage launched the Black Christian National Movement in the late 1970s. In his preaching and his writing, he articulated a vision of a radical Christianity aimed at fighting injustice . Throughout his life, he remained dedicated to equal education, political leadership, and economic equality for African Americans. MORE ON ALBERT CLEAGE

JAMES CONE: 1939- back to top
James Cone

When first published in 1970, James Cone's A Black Theology of Liberation revolutionized theology with its searing indictment of white theology and society. Cone radically reappraised Christianity from the pained and angry perspective of the oppressed black community in North America. Cone is the griot of This Far by Faith: African American Spiritual Journeys. MORE ON JAMES CONE

WARITH DEEN MOHAMMED: 1933- back to top
Warith Deen Mohammed

Imam Warith Deen Muhammad leads the largest group of African-American Moslems in the United States. He is active in pursuing inter-faith, inter-denominational alliances, a fact that is somewhat surprising since Imam Muhammad is the son of a religious leader usually associated with intolerance. Warith Deen Muhammad's faith journey begins with the faith of his father - and ends with his faith in humankind. MORE ON WARITH DEEN MOHAMMED

THOMAS DORSEY: 1899-1993 back to top
Warith Deen Mohammed

Thomas Dorsey will forever be known as the "father of gospel music." He emerged during the early 1930s, as the creator of an African American religious music style known as the gospel blues - secular blues music married to sacred text. It is a style responsible for ushering in the "Golden Age of Gospel Music." In his long career Dorsey published nearly 400 compositions, including a large body of religious and secular music. After working in Atlanta as a blues pianist, he worked as a composer of vaudeville blues and eventually became a popular blues recording artist. Under the name "Georgia Tom" he performed with and led Ma Rainey's Wild Cats Jazz Band. In 1932, after the death of his wife and infant son during childbirth, Dorsey rescinded secular blues and focused on a career as an African-American religious composer. It was then that Dorsey composed "Take My Hand, Precious Lord," which became the most popular gospel song of all time. MORE ON THOMAS DORSEY

FREDERICK DOUGLASS: 1818-1895 back to top
Frederick Douglass

One of the abolitionist movement's primary leaders was Frederick Douglass. He was born Frederick Baily, the son of a field hand and, reportedly, her white master, in 1818. He was first sold at age six. He learned to read and write over the next ten years, until he was apprenticed as a caulker for a shipbuilder in Baltimore. Although he was able to rent out his own time and thereby earn some money, he chafed for his freedom. MORE ON FREDERICK DOUGLASS

OLAUDAH EQUIANO: 1745-1797 back to top
Olaudah Equiano

Olaudah Equiano was born in Benin, West Africa in the middle of the eighteenth century. Around his eleventh birthday, he was kidnapped from his home, and sold into slavery. In Virginia, he was bought by a British naval officer and introduced to Christianity. Equiano bought his own freedom, settled in England and married into society. He became a passionate abolitionist. Olaudah Equiano died in March 1797. Ten years later, slavery was abolished in Britain. MORE ON OLAUDAH EQUIANO

PRATHIA LAURAANN HALL: 1940-2002 back to top
Prathia Hall

The Reverend Dr. Prathia L. Hall was a pioneering Baptist pastor, preacher, educator, and lecturer. Prathia Hall was raised in a faith that advocated independence, racial equality and justice. As a young girl, she battled her parents to join the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee. Faith guided her in that struggle, and nearly deserted her, but she persevered. MORE ON PRATHIA HALL

DANIEL PAYNE: 1811-1893 back to top
Daniel Payne

His mission was twofold: "to improve the ministry; the second to improve the people." He advocated an educated ministry, to lift the mask of general ignorance prevalent among a people forbidden to learn; and then struggled to lift the emotional tone of AME services. In the ongoing struggle within the black church between spiritual expression and liturgical order, Payne stood on the side of "order." He was one of the most vital missionaries the black church ever had. MORE ON DANIEL PAYNE

HOWARD THURMAN: 1900-1981 back to top
Howard Thurman

Howard Thurman was the godfather of the civil rights movement. Thurman was an African-American minister, theologian and mystic whose prophetic message of spirituality and non-violent resistance heavily influenced many Civil Rights activists, including Martin Luther King, Jr. His interest in non-violent resistance and his belief that Christianity should play a part in creating racial unity and ending racial oppression changed the face of Christianity and issued in a new age of work for social justice. MORE ON HOWARD THURMAN

SOJOURNER TRUTH: 1797-1883 back to top
Sojourner Truth

She was born enslaved, named Isabella, and sold four times before she was twelve. From these humble beginnings, Sojourner Truth experienced a personal conversion, changed her name, and became one of the country's leading abolitionists and feminists. She resisted attempts to label her or put her in a box, challenging those of her time to remember, in the words of Nell Painter, that "among blacks, there are women, and among women, blacks." MORE ON SOJOURNER TRUTH

HENRY MCNEAL TURNER: 1822-1915 back to top
Henry McNeal Turner

Today's black church draws its strength and vitality from the foundation laid by men like Henry McNeal Turner, "one of the most skillful denominational builders in American history," according to his biographer, Stephen Angell. An accomplished preacher even before the Civil War, Turner became the first black U.S. Army Chaplain. He helped organize the Republican party in Georgia, got elected to the legislature, became a bishop in the AME church; then turned his back on the U.S. and became a back-to-Africa activist and one of the first black nationalists. MORE ON HENRY MCNEAL TURNER

DENMARK VESEY: 1737-1822 back to top
Denmark Vesey

At age 60, Denmark Vesey called for armed rebellion against the institution of slavery. Casting himself as Moses, and his people as the enslaved Israelites, Vesey interpreted the biblical book of Exodus as a charge from God for slaves to overthrow their masters and escape. Vesey's was a God of venegence and retribution. He became a martyr to the cause for freedom. MORE ON DENMARK VESEY

CECIL WILLIAMS: 1929- back to top
Cecil Williams

The Reverend Cecil Williams is CEO and Minister of National and International Ministries at Glide Memorial United Methodist Church, located in the Tenderloin district of San Francisco, CA. Williams has been pastor of Glide since 1963. His church embraces diversity and spirituality. It has been called "the most far-out church in America". Glide's 7000 members are welcomed regardless of race, age, gender, ethnicity, sexual orientation or religion. MORE ON CECIL WILLIAMS