Early Pioneer Contributors to Black Adventism


John Nevins Andrews (1829-1883) conducted research on faithful seventh-day Sabbath observers in Ethiopia to the Adventist and prominently featured it in his volume The History of the Sabbath and First Day of the Week (1859). Ellen White employed his research in her most influential work, The Great Controversy (pgs. 63, 577-578), writing "the history of the churches of Ethiopia and Abyssinia is especially significant."


Maud Sisley Boyd (1851-1937) was one of the first Seventh-day Adventist missionaries sent to Africa when she embarked for the continent with her husband and several other workers in 1887.


Nellie Druillard (1844-1937) served as a missionary in South Africa with her husband at the turn of the century, holding a number of important positions in what was then an Adventist frontier. A couple of years later Druillard financed and cofounded the Madison School with nephew P.T. Magan and E.A. Sutherland. In 1927 she (re)founded the denomination's first hospital for African Americans, Riverside Sanitarium, in Nashville, Tennessee.

Stephen Nelson Haskell (1833-1922) organized the first African American Seventh-day Adventist church in New York City in 1902.


Hetty Hurd Haskell (1857-1919) did missionary work in South Africa for five years and assisted her husband in establishing Seventh-day Adventism among blacks in New York City in the early 1900s.

Alonzo Trevier Jones (1850-1923) outspokenly opposed segregationist policies proposed at General Conference sessions and while editor of the Adventist Review consistently featured articles on the black struggle for civil rights. Jones argued eloquently for equal treatment for African Americans from the American Constitution and other founding documents. He held membership at the first black church in Washington, DC, combating the segregationist practices encroaching upon Adventism by personal example.

John Harvey Kellogg (1852-1943) financed and raised funds for black causes in the Seventh-day Adventist church and promoted equality among the races. Mentoring legendary African American medical practicioners such as Anna Knight, Kellogg encouraged integration by example, adopting several children of color and not allowing discriminatory practices to exist at Battle Creek facilities.  He first suggested the idea to Edson White to begin the Gospel Herald, today's Message.

Robert Meade Kilgore (1839-1912) was one of the most important figures of the early Seventh-day Adventist work in the South, serving as the first president of the Texas Conference, and for years as the superintendent of the Southern District and the president and vice president of the Southern Union Conference.

John Norton Loughborough (1832-1924) baptized Charles M. Kinny, the founder of black Adventism, in 1876 in Reno, Nevada. In the first history of Seventh-day Adventism, Rise and Progress, Loughborough brought attention to William Foy, an African American who received visions before Ellen G. White and faithfully performed his calling.  As president of the Illinois Conference Loughborough facilitated the launching of Edson White's Mississippi River evangelism.

Oakwood University Cofounders (1895-1896)

In 1895, Ole Olsen (1845-1915), General Conference president; G.A. Iriwin (1844-1913), president of District No. 2 (the South); and Harmon Lindsey (1835-1919) surveyed and purchased land for the Oakwood school.

Will O. Palmer (1866-1930) cofounded the Southern Missionary Society with James Edson White. Together the pair conceived of an innovated mobile education and evangelism approach to the work among blacks in the Deep South, the riverboat Morning Star, used on the Mississippi River for over a decade (1894-1905). The Southern Missionary Society was indirectly responsible for numerous important institutions in the South, including the Southern Publishing Association (of which Palmer was the first manager), Riverside Hospital, Oakwood University and the South Central Conference. Palmer ultimately succumbed to an illness he first contracted while in Mississippi. 

The Wessels family pioneered the Seventh-day Adventist cause in South Africa, giving liberally of wealth obtained from diamond real estate. In particular, John Wessels played a significant role by obtaining a land grant from Cecil Rhodes on which was established the Solusi Mission.

James Edson White (1849-1928) did more than any of Adventism's second generation of whites to bring Seventh-day Adventism to the black population of the South. White's innovative plan featured a riverboat called Morning Star that was the vehicle used to spread the gospel down the important artery and to the rest of the South for over a decade (1894-1905). His Southern Missionary Society was indirectly responsible for numerous important institutions in the South, including the Southern Publishing, Riverside Hospital, Oakwood University and the South Central Conference. 


Emma White (1848-1917) accompanied her husband  James Edson and the evangelistic team the Southern Missionary Society down the Mississippi River into parts south. She perhaps gave more than anyone else to the mission by serving in a myraid capacities and ultimately sacrificing her life, dying from rheumatism which she contracted while in Mississippi.