Born into slavery on a Virginia plantation in 1857, James Solomon Russell (1857-1935) rose to become one of the most prominent African American pastors in the post-Civil War South. As a minister, educator, and founder of St. Paul's College in Lawrenceville, Virginia, he played a major role in the development of educational access for former slaves in the South and within the Episcopal Church from the end of Radical Reconstruction to the early 20th century. Indeed, Russell stood as a linchpin binding not only the poles of ecclesiastical racial obstacles, but the social maturity of blacks and whites within his church and in the greater society. This comprehensive biography explores Solomon's life within the broader context of colonial and Virginia history and chronicles his struggles against the social, political and religious structures of his day to secure a better future for all people.
A native of Norfolk, Virginia, Worth Earlwood Norman, Jr., has published work on Russell in The Historiographer, The Living Church and the Brunswick Times-Gazette (Virginia). He lives in Birmingham, Alabama.