Compiled by Benjamin Baker
This page features black Adventists in the United States who were the first blacks or women in their respective fields, positions, or accomplishments. This website welcomes submissions for this page here.
Rosetta Douglass Sprague
Sprague (1839-1906) was the daughter of famed abolitionist and orator Frederick Douglass. After she converted to Adventism around 1889, she continued to operate as her father's assistant and spoke out against racial injustice in the Adventist Church.
Sevell C. Brown III
Brown and his brother, Darryl, founded the first Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) chapter in Central Florida. For more than fifty years, Brown has organized and led civil rights initiatives.
Britton (1855-1925) was Kentucky's first woman licensed medical doctor. Throughout her life she advocated for the civil rights of blacks, women, and the poor. Her activism was immortalized by Paul Lawrence Dunbar in his poem "To Miss Mary Britton," which he wrote after witnessing her give a speech to the Kentucky legislature for the desegregation of public transportation in 1893.
Jessie Dorsey Green
Green (1874-1971) cofounded Voorhees College with Elizabeth Evelyn Wright in 1897.
Mary E. Britton
Britton (1855-1925) began teaching at Berea College in Kentucky in 1871, the first black person to teach white students at the institution. In 1902 she became Kentucky's first woman licensed medical doctor.
Carson (1951-) in 1987 performed the first successful separation of conjoined twins. His other surgical innovations have included the first intra-uterine procedure to relieve pressure on the brain of a hydrocephalic fetal twin, and a hemispherectomy, in which an infant suffering from uncontrollable seizures has half of its brain removed.
Politics and Law
James Alexander Chiles
Chiles (1860-1930), a lawyer in Lexington, Kentucky, was forcibly removed from public transportation several times by employees of the Chesapeake and Ohio Railroad due to his race. He sued the company for damages, and in 1910 the lawsuit reached the US Supreme Court. Chiles was among the first blacks to argue before the Supreme Court, but ultimately lost the case.
James E. Graves, Jr.
Graves (1953-) was elected to the United States Court of Appeals by President Barack Obama on June 10, 2010, and was confirmed on February 14, 2011, only the second African American to attain the distinction.
Milton L. Brown
Brown was the first black to earn a PhD in Organic Chemistry from the University of Alabama in Birmingham. He has over 40 patents in his name and two of his invented drugs are in clinical trials.
Brooks (1930-2016) in 1974 was the speaker-director of Breath of Life Ministries, the first continuously-running black religious television programming.