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Brooks, Walter H.(1851–1945) - Minister, religious reformer, orator, poet, Chronology

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One of the most widely known clergymen of his era, Reverend Walter Henderson Brooks was an eloquent orator, poet, missionary, journalist, and reformer. Brooks provided leadership and service to one of the most important African American churches and denominations. A man of letters, Brooks was a published theologian and a scholar of Black Baptist Church history, as well as a poet and composer of hymns. He made great efforts to promote education and Christian morals as a means to improve the quality of life for African Americans.

Walter Henderson Brooks was born on August 30, 1851, in Richmond, Virginia, the fifth of nine surviving children of Albert Royal and Lucy Goode Brooks. He was born a slave, his parents belonging to different masters. His father, Albert R. Brooks, worked hard to earn enough money to purchase Brooks’ mother for $800 and two of the younger children. His father was able to purchase the oldest son, but his oldest daughter was sold to traders and taken to Tennessee where she died in bondage. Walter Brooks often recalled in his sermons the sale of his sister on a Richmond auction block.

In the summer of 1865 Walter attended his first school, Cheeseman’s in Richmond. In the fall of 1865 he entered the Wilberforce Institute at Carolina Mills, Rhode Island. He entered Lincoln University in Pennsylvania in 1866. He joined the Ashmun Presbyterian Church in 1868, while a student at Lincoln University. He and Archibald H. Grimké served as church elders when the church was organized in 1868. Completing the course for a B.A. degree in 1872, Brooks spent an additional year at Lincoln University in the theological course, earning a B.D. degree in 1873. It was his intention to enter the ministry of the Presbyterian Church, but in the spring of 1873 he changed his mind on the subject of baptism.


1851 Born in Richmond, Virginia on August 30

1866 Enters Lincoln University in Pennsylvania

1872 Earns B.A. degree from Lincoln University

1873 Earns B.D. degree from Lincoln University; baptized at The Richmond Baptist Church

1876 Ordained a Baptist minister

1877–80 Serves as pastor of the Second African Baptist Church of Richmond, Virginia

1882–1945 Serves as pastor of the Nineteenth Street Baptist in Washington, D.C.

1895 Creates the National Baptist Convention

1922 Publishes histories of black Baptist churches in The Journal of Negro History

1929 Receives LL.D. degree from Lincoln University

1944 Receives the D.D. degree from Howard University, Washington, D.C.

1945 Publishes The Pastor’s Voice: A Collection of Poems

1945 Dies in Washington, D.C. on July 6

Broom, Robert [next] [back] Brooks, Vincent K.(1958–) - Army officer, spokesperson, Joins the Military, Serves During Second Iraqi War, Chronology

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