Rushdoony, R. J. (25 Apr. 1916–8 Feb. 2001), theologian, Presbyterian minister, political activist, and education reformer, was born Rousas John Rushdoony in New York City to Armenian refugees fleeing Turkish persecution during World War I. Presbyterian minister Yeghiazar Khachadour and Vartanoush (Gazarian) Rushdouni’s first son, George, perished in the Turkish siege of Van, and the family immigrated to the United States via Russia. The Rushdoonys anglicized their names—Yeghiazar opting for an abbreviated Y. K. and Vartanoush adopting Rose, the English translation of her name—and settled in a growing Armenian community in Kingsburg, California. Y. K. took his family with him as he served as a pastor to Armenian communities in California and Michigan during the 1920s and 1930s. As the family moved about the United States, R. J. Rushdoony learned English and resolved to follow his father into the ministry....
Michael J. McVicar
Sandy Dwayne Martin
Simmons, William James (26 June 1849–30 October 1890), Baptist leader, educator, and race advocate, was born in Charleston, South Carolina, the son of enslaved parents, Edward Simmons and Esther (maiden name unknown). During his youth, Simmons’s mother escaped slavery with him and two of his siblings, relocating in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Simmons’s uncle, Alexander Tardieu (or Tardiff), a shoemaker, became a father for the children and a protector and provider for the fugitive slave family. He moved them among the cities of Philadelphia, Roxbury, Massachusetts, and Chester, Pennsylvania, constantly eluding persistent “slave catchers,” before permanently taking residence in Bordentown, New Jersey. While Simmons never received formal elementary or secondary school education, his uncle made a point of teaching the children to read and write. As a youth Simmons served as an assistant to a white dentist in Bordentown. At the age of fifteen he joined the Union army, participating in a number of major battles in Virginia and finding himself at Appomattox in 1865. After the war, Simmons once again worked briefly as a dental assistant. He converted and affiliated with the white Baptist church in Bordentown in 1867, announced his call to the ministry, and ventured to college with the financial support of church friends....
See Thurman, Howard W.
Thurman, Howard W. (18 November 1899?–10 April 1981), and Howard W. Thurman (18 November 1899–10 April 1981), theologian, educator, and civil rights mentor, was born in Daytona, Florida, the son of Saul Solomon Thurman, a railroad worker, and Alice Ambrose, a domestic worker. Howard grew up under the tremendous influence of his maternal grandmother, who had previously been enslaved. His grandmother instilled in him a critical reading of the Bible. In 1915 he attended high school at Florida Baptist Academy in Jacksonville, Florida. Upon graduation, he enrolled in Morehouse College in Atlanta, Georgia, where he received his bachelor's degree in 1923. By 1925 Thurman became an ordained Baptist minister, receiving his first pastorate in Oberlin, Ohio, at Mount Zion Baptist Church. In 1926 Thurman graduated from Colgate Rochester Theological Seminary. Following his brief stint at Mount Zion, Thurman moved on to a joint appointment as professor of religion and director of religious life at both Morehouse and Spelman colleges in Atlanta, Georgia. Here Thurman pondered a question that would motivate his life's work: "How can we manage the carking fear of the white man's power and not be defeated by our own rage and hatred?"...