Teacher, minister, author and civil rights leader Thomas McCants Stewart was born on Dec. 28, 1853 in Charleston, South Carolina.
Stewart enrolled at Howard University in 1869 at the age of 15 but returned to South Carolina in 1874. Upon his return, he enrolled in the University of South Carolina, becoming one of the first Black students to be admitted to the school. He earned Bachelor of Arts and L.L.B. degrees.
Stewart then went on to work as a mathematics instructor for South Carolina’s State Agricultural and Mechanical College while working with a local firm.
Later, Stewart would move on to New York in 1880, where he would emerge as a national civil rights leader. Stewart started in New York as a pastor of Bethel AME Church and worked as a lawyer and writer in his efforts to champion civil rights.
Stewart also traveled to Liberia and briefly served on the faculty at Liberia’s national university. His work would continue to take him around the world with stops in London and a return to Liberia where he served as an associate justice of the Liberian Supreme Court for three years.
He died in St. Thomas, Virgin Islands, in January 1923.
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