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People, Locations, Episodes

Sat, 11.13.0354

Saint Augustine, “the Knowledgable One”

The birth of Saint Augustine in 354 is celebrated on this date. He was a North African Saint, Philosopher, and Doctor.

He was the eldest son of Saint Monica of Saint Augustine. Aurelius Augustinus (his birth name) was born in the municipium of Thagaste (now Souk Ahras, Algeria) in Roman North Africa. His mother, Monica, was a devout Christian; his father Patricius was a Pagan who converted to Christianity on his deathbed. Scholars believe that Augustine’s ancestors included Berbers, Latins, and Phoenicians. He considered himself to be Punic and as “an African, writing of Africa.

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Fri, 04.04.1000

The Lemba religious community, a brief story

*The Lemba religious community is celebrated on this date in this date in 1000.  They are a Bantu ethnic group native to Zimbabwe and South Africa, with smaller, little-known branches in Mozambique and Malawi. According to Tudor Parfitt, Professor of Oriental and African Studies at the University of London, in 2002 they numbered an estimated 50,000.  They speak the Bantu languages spoken by their geographic neighbors and resemble them […]

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Thu, 07.19.1500

From Africa to the Americas, Santeria!

This date from 1500, celebrates Santeria. Santeria is one of the many African syncretistic religions created in the Americas. The word syncretistic means to “draw together” or “combine.” In a religious situation, this involves the mixing of elements from different or independent religious traditions to create a new belief system.

Santeria is based on the West African religions brought to the new world by Black slaves imported mainly to the Caribbean to work the sugar plantations.

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Wed, 12.05.1500

“Black Peter,” (Zwarte Piet), a “Black Face” European folk character

On this date, we reference the origin of Black Peter (Zwarte Piet) om approximately 500 A.D. He is a “Black Face” character of European folklore, a companion of Saint Nicholas (Dutch “Sinterklaas”).

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Fri, 06.04.1526

From Africa to Sicily, Saint Benedict the Black

The birth of Benedict the Black in 1526 is celebrated on this date. He was a black patron saint.

He was born in Messina, Italy on the estate of Chevalier de Lanza a San Fratello. His parents, Christopher and Diana, were slaves who had been taken from Africa to Sicily. Granted his freedom at age 18, he stayed as an employee of his former master. Ridiculed and mocked by others due to his origin and skin color, he never forgot his humanity. He met with, and became enamored of, a group of Franciscan hermits near Palermo.

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Thu, 05.11.1550

Macumba, another source of African spirituality

This date in 1550 celebrates the Macumba/Candomble religion, one of many African-based faiths practiced in the Americas.

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Sun, 12.09.1579

St. Martin de Porres , the first Black Saint in the Americas

*On this date in 1579, St. Martin de Porres was born. He was a Black patron saint.

From Lima, Peru he was often called Saint Martin of Charity; and the Saint of the Broom (for his devotion to his work, no matter how menial). De Porres was the Illegitimate son of a Spanish nobleman and a young freed Black slave, he grew up in poverty. De Porres spent part of his youth with a surgeon-barber where he learned some medicine and how to care for the sick. At age 11 he became a servant in the Dominican priory.

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Fri, 06.26.1581

Peter Claver, Patron Saint of Slaves

*This date in 1581 marks the birth of Peter Claver. He was a Black patron saint.

From Verdu, Catalonia, Spain he was also known as Slave of the Blacks and Slave of the Slaves. Claver was a farmer’s son. He studied at the University of Barcelona and was a Jesuit Priest at age 20. Influenced by Saint Alphonsus Rodriguez, Claver became a missionary in America. He ministered to slaves physically and spiritually when they arrived in Cartegena, converting an estimated 300,000. He worked for humane treatment on American plantations for over 40 years.

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Sun, 05.07.1600

Umbanda, a source of faith from Africa

The Registry celebrates the Umbanda religion, which dates from 1600, on this date. This is one of several Black African faiths practiced in the Americas.

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Tue, 09.01.1620

African burial customs preserved in America

On this date we celebrate the African American customs regarding cemeteries and funerals. One of the most direct and unaltered visual manifestations of African influence on the culture of African Americans in the United States is found in the social behaviors centered on funerals.

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Fri, 08.16.1737

Andrew Bryan, Minister born

*The birth of Andrew Bryan is celebrated on this date in 1737.  He was a Black minister and Church administrator.  Andrew Bryan was born in the small town of Goose Creek, South Carolina. Bryan was born on a plantation called Brampton, owned by Jonathan Bryan. Brampton was known as a productive rice plantation. His father […]

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Sun, 11.06.1746

Absalom Jones born

On this date, we mark the birth of Absalom Jones in 1746, a Black minister and abolitionist.

A house slave from Delaware, Jones taught himself to read out of the New Testament and other books. At the age of 16, he was sold to a store owner in Philadelphia, and he was soon attending a night school for blacks operated by Quakers. In 1766, he married another slave and purchased her freedom with his earnings, buying his own freedom in 1784.

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Fri, 05.10.1748

The conception of “Amazing Grace”

This date in 1779 marks the first publication of the hymn “Amazing Grace.” John Newton a White British man was responsible for writing one of the most beloved hymns of all times.

He was a British naval midshipman and a slave trader, who became a hymn writer and clergyman. He was on a homeward voyage while sailing his slave ship through a violent storm when he experienced what he referred to later as his “great deliverance.” Newton awoke in the middle of the night and prayed to God as the ship filled with water.

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Sat, 01.10.1750

Bishop James Varick born

The birth of James Varick in 1750 is celebrated on this date. He was the first Black Methodist Episcopal Zion Bishop in America.

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Sun, 07.19.1750

Black Harry Hosier, orator of spirit

The birth of Harry Hosier in 1750 is celebrated on this date. He was a renowned Black preacher and an evangelist.

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New Poem Each Day

Poetry Corner

I done told you babe, I didn't tell you no lie I want some of your custard pie. You gotta gimme some of it. You gotta gimme some of it.... CUSTARD PIE by Sonny Terry.
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