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Cook, John Francis (1810?–21 March 1855), educator and clergyman, was born a slave in the District of Columbia. His mother was Laurena Browning Cook, but his father’s identity is unknown. His mother’s sister, Alethia Browning Tanner, was clearly a dominant influence in his early life. Although she was a slave, her owner allowed her to hire out her own time, and by operating a profitable vegetable market in Washington, D.C., she acquired the money to purchase her own freedom as well as that of her sister and about twenty-one other relatives and acquaintances, including her nephew. Freed at the age of sixteen, Cook apprenticed himself to a shoemaker in order to earn the money repay his aunt....

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Henry Highland Garnet. Albumen silver print, c. 1881, by James U. Stead. National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution.

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Garnet, Henry Highland (23 December 1815–13 February 1882), clergyman and abolitionist, was born in New Market, Kent County, Maryland, the son of George and Henrietta (later called Elizabeth), slaves. Henry escaped with his parents and seven siblings to Wilmington, Delaware, in 1824, assisted by the Quaker ...

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Stelzle, Charles (04 June 1869–27 February 1941), clergyman, labor advocate, and writer, was born in New York City, the son of the German immigrant John Stelzle, a small brewer, and Doretta Uhlendorf. Stelzle grew up in poverty on the Lower East Side, and after the death of his father he worked at age eight as a tobacco stripper for fifty cents a week. He joined a street gang and was arrested twice, but his mother sent him to Sunday school at the Presbyterian Hope Chapel. He changed his ways, learned the trade of a machinist, and, stirred by the desire to help, began theological studies....