Pierre Toussaint

Celebrate Black History

Pierre ToussaintThe Venerable Pierre Toussaint was a former slave from the French colony of Saint-Domingue who was brought to New York City by his owners in 1787. It was here that Pierre was enlisted as an apprentice to one of New York’s leading hairdressers. Because of his unique and elaborate skill, it was not long before Toussaint gained many clients through word-of-mouth reputation, earning him thousands dollars each year!

Pierre Toussaint saved this money, and purchased Juliet Noel‘s freedom when she was just fifteen years old; she did later become his wife in 1811, and they shared a spirit of generousity by performing many charitable works together. Even their very home on Franklin Street was opened up as an orphange, employment agency, a credit bureu, priest travelers lodge, and a refuge for the poverty stricken. The couple also fostered numerous boys in succession, supported them in getting an education and learning a trade; and they sometimes helped them get their first jobs because of Pierre Toussaint connections in the city.

Proud to be one of the leading black philanthropist of his day, Pierre Toussaint assisted his black brothers and sisters with financial support of the Oblate Sisters of Providence; and as a benefactor for the first black Catholic School in New York City – the St. Vincent de Paul Catholic School on Canal Street. Pierre Toussaint continued his genuine care and concern for black and white people affilicted by poverty, by opening up his heart and hand to those in need of money, freedom from slavery purchases, and business start-ups! He personally contributed funds to help build St. Patrick’s Old Cathedral, New York on Mulberry Street.

Toussaint attended daily Mass for 66 years at St. Peter’s in New York.  As Toussaint aged, he continued his charity. Even up until his death on June 30, 1853, at the age of 87. His papers included records of his many charitable gifts to Catholic and other institutions; his character was lauded by friends and acquaintances. Pierre Toussaint is considered “one of the leading black New Yorkers of his day”, but his story became lost to history.

Because of Toussaint’s reputation of great charity and piety, Cardinal Terence Cooke, then Archbishop of New York, authorized the formation of a committee to study the possibility of a formal cause for seeking his canonization. In 1991 his successor, Cardinal John O’Connor, strongly supported Toussaint for sainthood and began the official process, thereby according him the title of Servant of God, and sent the needed documentation to the Vatican for this process.

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This Day In Black History (Feb. 3): 

1. R&B SINGER DENNIS EDWARDS WAS BORN (1943) – R&B singer Dennis Edwards most noted for being one of the lead singers on the Temptations born in Birmingham, Alabama.

Edwards replaced David Ruffin in the group on July 9th, 1968 and appeared on the songs “Cloud Nine” and “Papa Was a Rollin Stone.”

He scored his greatest hit as a solo artist with “Don’t Look Any Further” in 1984.

2. 1ST BLACK REPORTER IN CONGRESS (1947) – Percival Prattis becomes the first African American news correspondent allowed in the United States House and Senate press gallery.

3. CELEBRATION OF HEROS DAY – This day celebrates the struggles by Mozamicans to liberate their country from portuguese rule. Many of the freedom fighters were either maimed or died for the cause as the struggle raged on for nearly 20 years.

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Submitted by:

Dwayne B. Neal – Team N.A.M.E.S.
“Knowledge is power, but ACTION is King!”

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