Father Divine

by john robbins

birthday: 1876

years lived: 88

place of birth: Georgia or Maryland

occupation: African American spiritual leader

achievements: Some biographers, such as Robert Weisbrot, speculate that Father Divine was a forerunner to the civil rights struggles of the 1950s and 1960s, heavily influenced by his upbringing in the segregated South. Others, such as Jill Watts, reject not only this characterization, but also the theory that Father Divine grew up in the Deep South. Watts asserts that Rockville was less oppressive than the South or even Baltimore, Maryland, and believes his civil rights positions are unintelligible without evaluating them in the context of theDoctrine of Father Divine.

Although Father Divine strove extensively against lynching and bigotry, he accepted many of the negative characteristics assigned African Americans. He concluded that those who identified themselves as "black" manifested these characteristics. In short, he believed blacks perpetuated their own oppression by thinking racially. He once said that he was not poor because he did not belong to a poor downtrodden race—that he was not black.

did yo know: he was recognized as one of the first cult leaders

character trait: peaceful

be inspired: he wanted peace