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Famous Blacks and Adventists

Compiled by Benjamin Baker

It’s amazing how many famous black people are, or have been, Seventh-day Adventists! The list of onetime Adventists includes a US president’s grandfather, America’s best authors, the world’s fastest person, one of the greatest basketball players of all time, the most influential civil rights leaders, the greatest rap groups of all time, the father of rock and roll and other Grammy award-winning musicians, and elite physicians. Their influence has spanned the globe and transformed our modern world. Here are more than one hundred famous blacks and their relationship to the Seventh-day Adventist Church.

Musicians

A Tribe Called Quest
A Tribe Called Quest

Q-Tip (Jonathan Davis) and Phife Dawg (Malik Taylor) met in a Seventh-day Adventist Church and attended the Linden Jamaica SDA School in Queens, New York City.

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Atlantic Starr
Atlantic Starr

David Lewis was raised a Seventh-day Adventist and remained one throughout his successful music career with Atlantic Starr. However, in 1995 he experienced a renewal of his faith, was baptized, and began a ministry with his wife, former model, Marian Jones.

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Justin Wilson
Justin Wilson

Wilson (right) was born and raised a Seventh-day Adventist and graduated from Oakwood University.

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A Tribe Called Quest
A Tribe Called Quest

Q-Tip (Jonathan Davis) and Phife Dawg (Malik Taylor) met in a Seventh-day Adventist Church and attended the Linden Jamaica SDA School in Queens, New York City.

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Actors and Producers 

Phillip Michael Thomas
Phillip Michael Thomas

Thomas studied theology at Oakwood University in 1967-1968.

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Clifton Davis
Clifton Davis

Davis earned theology degrees from Oakwood and Andrews University, and for many years pastored Adventist congregations.

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Devon Franklin
Devon Franklin

Franklin is a lifelong Seventh-day Adventist and an ordained minister. He is known for observing the seventh-day Sabbath and other Adventist principles despite the demands of Hollywood.

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Phillip Michael Thomas
Phillip Michael Thomas

Thomas studied theology at Oakwood University in 1967-1968.

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Athletes

Usain Bolt
Usain Bolt

Bolt was raised in a Seventh-day Adventist home, as a youth attending the Sherwood Content Seventh-day Adventist Church in Trelawny, Jamaica.

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Magic Johnson
Magic Johnson

When Earvin Johnson was around ten years old, his mother became a Seventh-day Adventist. The family followed for a while. Johnson’s sisters attended Oakwood University, and his mother is an Adventist to this day, almost fifty years since her conversion to the faith. In May 2016 the Oakwood University Church awarded Magic Johnson with the Humanitarian Award, and Johnson pledged $550,000 to the church and school.

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Regan Upshaw
Regan Upshaw

Upshaw was born and raised in a Seventh-day Adventist home. His father, Charles R. Upshaw, was the first African American vice president at Andrews University.

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Usain Bolt
Usain Bolt

Bolt was raised in a Seventh-day Adventist home, as a youth attending the Sherwood Content Seventh-day Adventist Church in Trelawny, Jamaica.

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Activists, Lawyers, and Politicians

Rosetta Douglass-Sprague
Rosetta Douglass-Sprague

Frederick Douglass’ oldest child and personal assistant for decades, Rosetta Douglass-Sprague, joined the Seventh-day Adventist Church around 1892, when she lived in Washington, D.C. She was a member of the First SDA Church until her death in 1906.

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Malcolm X
Malcolm X

X (1925-1965) was a Seventh-day Adventist from 1934-1937, when his mother converted to the faith in Lansing, Michigan. He said of the Adventists that he encountered that "they were the friendliest white people I had ever seen."

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Patrick Allen
Patrick Allen

Allen has been the Governor-General of Jamaica since 2009. He is an Adventist minister and has served as the president of Central Jamaica Conference and the West Indies Union of Seventh-day Adventists.

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Rosetta Douglass-Sprague
Rosetta Douglass-Sprague

Frederick Douglass’ oldest child and personal assistant for decades, Rosetta Douglass-Sprague, joined the Seventh-day Adventist Church around 1892, when she lived in Washington, D.C. She was a member of the First SDA Church until her death in 1906.

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Not Quite Adventist...

Barack Obama
Barack Obama

Onyango Obama, Barack’s grandfather, was one of the earliest converts to Adventism in the Kendu Bay region of Kenya. Adventist missionaries began missionary work among the Luo people in 1906. Baptized into the faith at 9-years old, Onyango attended an Adventist boarding school established by missionaries. So deeply was Adventist implanted among the Obama family that about half of the family is still Adventist today, celebrating Barack Obama’s inauguration sans alcohol and unclean meat.

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Sojourner Truth
Sojourner Truth

In her long life, Truth was often around Adventists, even though she may never have actually joined the church. She was a Millerite, and eyewitnesses claimed that she was later baptized into the Seventh-day Adventist Church by Uriah Smith; a biography of her was published by the Review and Herald; one of her funeral services was held at the Dime Tabernacle in Battle Creek; and she is buried in Oak Hill Cemetery with other Seventh-day Adventist luminaries, including James and Ellen White.

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Meagan Good
Meagan Good

In 2012 Good married outspoken Seventh-day Adventist movie producer and lay minister DeVon Franklin. Since then she has frequently attended Adventist churches with him, giving her testimony.

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Barack Obama
Barack Obama

Onyango Obama, Barack’s grandfather, was one of the earliest converts to Adventism in the Kendu Bay region of Kenya. Adventist missionaries began missionary work among the Luo people in 1906. Baptized into the faith at 9-years old, Onyango attended an Adventist boarding school established by missionaries. So deeply was Adventist implanted among the Obama family that about half of the family is still Adventist today, celebrating Barack Obama’s inauguration sans alcohol and unclean meat.

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