In celebration of Black History Month, each week Redeemer East Harlem will highlight the life and ministry of key black Christian pastors, theologians, and leaders in the U.S.


Check back each week for new additions!


For much more of these figures and many more, check out the links below or read the Encyclopedia of African American Christian Heritage by Marvin McMickle. 

For more resources on Black history, civil rights, & working for racial justice, CLICK HERE


Alexander Crummell (Born 1819, - Died October 12, 1898.), was an American scholar, Episcopalian minister, and founder of the American Negro Academy (1897), the first major learned society for African Americans. As a religious leader and an intellectual, he cultivated scholarship and leadership among young Blacks. For more, CLICK HERE.


Prathia Hall Wynn (Born June 29, 1940 - Died August 12, 2002), was a womanist, theologian, ethicist, and civil rights activist who has been credited with being a key inspiration for Martin Luther King Jr.’s 1963 “I Have A Dream Speech.”  For more, CLICK HERE.


William B. Gibbs Jr (Born July 26, 1905 - Died December 27, 1984) was a civil rights activist, American educator, and community religious leader, and became the NAACP’s plaintiff against the Montgomery County, Maryland School Board for pay equity discrimination in a case that would be known as Gibbs v. Broome. The legal arguments developed by Marshall, in this case, laid the foundation for similar arguments he and others would make in the landmark 1954 United States Supreme Court decision, Brown vs. Board of Education.  For more, CLICK HERE.


Betsy Stockton (Born 1798? - Died 1865), was a former enslaved person of Princeton president Ashbel Green, and a religious and academic pioneer who became the first single woman missionary in the modern mission era. She was a respected educator in Princeton, Philadelphia, and the Sandwich Islands (present-day Hawaii). For more, CLICK HERE. 


Johnathan Gibbs (Born 1827 - Died 1874), was a presbyterian minister, the first Black Secretary of State in Florida, superintendent of public education, and a political activist who fought for the rights of African Americans and aided in the Underground Railroad. For more, CLICK HERE.


Lydia Teresa Sims (Born Nov 18, 1920 - Died June 23, 2012), along with her husband, Rev. James Sims, was an active civic leader becoming the first African American female president of the NAACP in Spokane Washington. For more, CLICK HERE.


Fred Shuttlesworth (Born March 18, 1922 - Died October 5, 2011), was a pastor and a leading civil rights activist who challenged segregation in the Alabama school system and Jim Crow policies in public accommodations. He formed the civil rights organization Alabama Christian Movement for Human Rights. For more CLICK HERE.


Sojourner Truth (Born 1979 - Died 1883), was a former enslaved person, an outspoken advocate for abolition, civil, and woman’s rights. Her Civil War work earned her an invitation to meet President Abraham Lincoln in 1864. For more CLICK HERE.


John Wesley Edward Bowen (Born December 3, 1855 - Died July 20, 1933), was an educator, philosopher, and theologian who preached for social equality fifty years before the U.S. Civil Rights Movement. He supported Black intellectualism and urged African Americans to develop self-worth even in the face of white oppression. For more CLICK HERE.


Rev. Gayraud Stephen Wilmore (Born December 20, 1921 - Died April 18, 2020), was an American pastor, educator, historian, and theologian. Wilmore served as an Executive Director of The United Presbyterian Commission on Religion and Race where he trained ministers who participated in boycotts and protests in the American South. For more CLICK HERE.


Lucy Craft Laney (Born April 13, 1854 - Died October 23, 1933), was an educator, school founder, and civil rights activist. In 1883, she opened her own school in the basement of Christ Presbyterian Church in Augusta, Georgia. For more CLICK HERE.


Charles Bennett Ray (Born December 25, 1807 - Died August 15, 1886), was a journalist, clergyman, and abolitionist. He joined the American Anti-Slavery Society and was a “conductor” on the Underground Railroad. For more CLICK HERE.




  • An Encyclopedia of African American Christian Heritage by Marvin Andrew McMickle: The history of the Black church is often unknown to many, as much of the church history focuses attention on the white, Western church. In this book, McMickle tells the story of many known and unknown black pastors, theologians, and church leaders in the American church.

  • The Color of Compromise & How to Fight Racism by Jemar Tisby: In his first book, The Color of Compromise, Tisby bring chronicles the history of racism in the American church. In his follow up book, Tibsy presents his perspective on how the church can continue the fight against racism 

  • A Multitude of All Peoples: Engaging Ancient Christianity's Global Identity by Vince Bantu. Bantu, an expert in ancient semitic and egyptian languages, tells of the development of diverse expressions of Christianity across Africa, the Middle East, and Asia.



  • "As It Is In Heaven...": Each episodes considers the insights and perspectives of people of color, many of whom as Black, who navigate majority culture spaces and churches. 

  • "Truth's Table": A podcast that centers the voice, experience, and insights of Black women. 

Much, much more...

  • "Black History Recommendations": For an exhaustive list of worthwhile books, articles. documentaries, TV shows, and more check out the list of resources curated by Dominique Gilliard 

  • "The Black Church: This is Our Story, This is Our Song": This PBS four-hour, two-part documentary series traces the 400-year-old story of the Black church in America.