Black Icons and Seventh-day Adventism

Muhammad Ali

Ali owned a farm near Berrien Springs, Michigan, and frequently had black Seventh-day Adventist ministerial students over from the Andrews University Seminary to debate theology.

-South Bend Tribune, January 18, 2007

George Washington Carver

Carver invited a young Tuskegee collegian by the name of Calvin Mosley to his Bible classes at the school. From these Mosley converted to Christianity and became one of the greatest Seventh-day Adventist ministers of all time.

Frederick Douglass

“I left Baltimore for St. Michaels in the month of March, 1833. I know the year because it was the one succeeding the first cholera in Baltimore, and was the year also of that strange phenomenon, when the heavens seemed about to part with its starry train. I witnessed this gorgeous spectacle, and was awe-struck. The air seemed filled with bright descending messengers from the sky. It was about day-break when I saw this sublime scene. I was not without the suggestion at the moment, that it might be the harbinger of the coming of the Son of man; and in my then state of mind, I was prepared to hail him as my friend and deliverer. I had read, that the "stars shall fall from heaven;" and they were now falling. I was suffering much in my mind. It did seem that every time the young tendrils of my affection became attached, they were rudely broken by some unnatural outside power; and I was beginning to look away to heaven for the rest denied me on earth.”

My Bondage and My Freedom, 181

Earvin "Magic" Johnson

"Mom wanted the whole family to become Seventh-Day (sic) Adventists, and for a few weeks we all did—except Dad."

-From My Life, by Earvin Magic Johnson with William Novak (1993), 8-9.

Martin Luther King, Jr.


“Park the car. Let’s go in here and hear a good sermon.”


-King in reference to E.E. Cleveland’s Baltimore tent crusade to Carolyn Hinson, his Seventh-day Adventist chauffeur

Nelson Mandela


Mandela enrolled his two children in a Seventh-day Adventist school outside of Johannesburg and his administration was supportive of Seventh-day Adventism in South Africa.


-Long Walk to Freedom, 169

Huey Newton and the Black Panthers

In E.E. Cleveland's Oakland and Detroit crusades, the Black Panthers supported the Adventist tent efforts by protecting the Bible workers and the areas around the tents, as well as guarding the various community health programs run by Cleveland's team.

-Let the Church Roll On, 49-54

Barack Obama

I send warm greetings to those attending the 59th session of the General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists.....As we face the challenges and opportunities of this unique moment in history, may faith move us to unite in common cause to serve our fellow brothers and sisters....I wish you all the best for a wonderful event.

-President Barack Obama, letter to the 59th General Conference Session


Rosa Parks

Parks attended E.E. Cleveland's legendary tent crusade in Montgomery, Alabama, in 1954, before her history-altering refusal to give up her seat on the bus. She was also heavily influenced by T.R.M. Howard, a Seventh-day Adventist, with whom she was friends.

Haile Selassie

Selassie’s housekeeper, Della Hanson, was an American Seventh-day Adventist from Minnesota. He consistently allotted large amounts of government grants to Seventh-day Adventist hospital and school operations during his reign.

Life, June 7, 1943, 46-48

Sojourner Truth

Truth had a long career spanning each phase of Adventism. She toured with Millerite circuits as a featured speaker. 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 Cemetary with other Seventh-day Adventist luminaries, including Ellen G. White.

-James E. Dykes, “Lifted Lamp in the World’s Wild Storm,” Message, February, 1958

Booker T. Washington

Early Seventh-day Adventist contemporary with Booker T. Washington were enthralled by his philosophy, ideology and methodology.  His articles were frequently published and referred to in Adventist periodicals, and Ellen and Edson White publicly admired and emulated his methods.  Washington visited Battle Creek on several occasions and had a warm friendship with John Harvey Kellogg, who sent Washington a Sanitarium employee named William P. Crayton to nurse him and share his health principles at Tuskegee. Washington was highly impressed with Crayton and attributed better health to his expertise. 

Malcolm X

"The Adventists felt that we were living at the end of time, that the world soon was coming to an end.  But they were the friendliest white people I had ever seen."

-The Autobiography of Malcolm X, 17