From the obituary of Br. Vincent Webb :
In 1937, Br. Vincent Webb became the first African American Brother to profess vows in the Society of the Divine Word. He served the Church as a Brother for 68 years.
Br. Vincent, —originally Louis— Webb, was the seventh of ten children of Wesley and Ella Webb of Fordyce, AK. He attended a community school in Fordyce, where a teacher was hired for only three months of the year.
In 1925, he went north to Toledo, Ohio at the age of 17 to work in a creosote plant. Raised in the Baptist faith, Webb had never heard of Catholics, much less met one. (According to Br. Vincent, there just weren’t any Catholics in the black community in Arkansas at that time.) The owner of the creosote plant, a Catholic, invited him to Mass at St. Patrick’s church.
Br. Vincent remembered, “Before I walked into St. Patrick’s church in Toledo, I had never seen a crucifix. When I looked up at that life-sized crucifix, something just happened to me,” he remembers. He kept going back to St. Patrick's, and was baptized that year. Before long, decided that he wanted to become a priest.
For the rest of his story, go here: http://www.divineword.org/obituaries.asp
Photo: Toledo Lucas County Library