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Coughlin, Charles Edward (25 October 1891–27 October 1979), Catholic priest, radio personality, and political insurgent, was born in Hamilton, Ontario, the son of Thomas Coughlin and Amelia Mahoney, devout Catholics of Irish descent. Thomas Coughlin was the sexton of the Catholic cathedral in Hamilton; Amelia attended mass daily and dreamed of seeing her only child enter the priesthood. Throughout his youth Charles was surrounded by the institutions of the church. His family lived on the cathedral grounds, and he attended local parish schools. At age twelve he entered St. Michael’s, a secondary school and college run by the Basilian order and intended to prepare young boys to enter the clergy. Coughlin remained at St. Michael’s through college and in 1911 entered St. Basil’s Seminary to begin formal training for the priesthood. He was ordained in 1916, at the age of twenty-three. After teaching at Basilian schools in Canada for seven years, Coughlin left the order in 1923 and moved to Michigan to become a parish priest. Three years later he was assigned to a new parish in the Detroit suburb of Royal Oak, where he spent the rest of his life. He named his church the Shrine of the Little Flower, for the recently canonized Ste. Thérèse....

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Russell, Clayton (1910–1981), minister and political activist, was born in Los Angeles, California. Primarily educated in Los Angeles area schools, Russell also studied theology in Copenhagen, Denmark, in the early 1930s at the nation’s International College. Russell later remarked that his experiences studying abroad profoundly influenced his thinking about the plight of fellow African Americans in the United States. Foremost among his overseas memories was a visit to prewar Germany, where the Los Angeles cleric witnessed firsthand the rise of Adolf Hitler’s Nationalist Socialist (Nazi) party and its racist ideology. The eventual Nazi political triumph in Germany made him keenly aware of what a German victory in the Second World War would mean for American blacks....