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Vibrant Lives. Vibrant Stories.
Dr. Joseph Robert Love, 1839 - 1914

This biography was originally released on August 16, 2022 as a part of our on going series titled: Vibrant Lives. Vibrant Stories.
Written by Madison Matthews our wonderful summer intern for the Michigan Street African American Heritage Corridor Commission!

Dr. Joseph Robert Love was born on October 10, 1839 in Nassau, Bahama. Love was taught at St. Agnes Parish School and Christ Church Grammar School in Nassau. Later on he worked as a teacher before he moved to Florida in 1866. During this time he married, but was widowed very early on. However, they did have one daughter together. 

After the passing of his wife, in 1870 he was inducted by the Independent Grand Lodge of New York to organize lodges in Florida and Georgia. Then in June of 1871 he became the clergyman of Trinity Church, New York. In December of that same year, he transferred to the Church of St. Stephen in Savannah, Georgia. Following that, he was ordained as an Episcopal Deacon of that church. Shortly after in 1872, he was placed in charge of St. Augustine’s Mission in Savannah by the Board of Missions of the Episcopal Church. At this point of time he was appointed deacon of the Episcopal Diocese of Georgia. While working at the church he worked to establish a training school to serve thousands of freedmen in Savannah. During this time he served as the 1st Most Worshipful Grand Master of Prince Hall Freemasonry in Florida from 1870 to 1872. After this time, he served as the Most Worshipful Sovereign  Grand Master in the Georgia Lodge from 1873 to 1875. Afterwards he left the St. Augustine Mission and settled in Buffalo.


Once Dr. Joseph Robert Love left Savannah, Georgia and settled in Buffalo, New York he was ordained to become the rector of St. Philip's Episcopal Church in July of 1876 until 1878. Which was organized as an African American congregation in 1861. Eventually Love went to study at the University of Buffalo in 1877 and received his medical degree in 1880. For-which he was the first African American to graduate from the UB medical school in February 25,1880. In addition to Love studying at UB, he was titled the “Philosophy of Practical Medicine Versus Empiricism” as a requirement thesis during those years. Eventually Love left Buffalo and moved to Haiti.

Once Dr. Joseph Robert Love moved to Haiti from Buffalo in 1881, he worked at the Episcopal Mission. Love worked under the director Bishop James Theodore Holly who was the first African American consecrated as a Bishop at the church. During this time, he began to advocate bluntly for pan-Africanism. Yet, he was forced to end his career at the church due to a major disagreement. Later on, he became a doctor in the Haitian army. However, he had another major disagreement with the country’s leader so he was deported out of Haiti in 1889 and moved to Jamaica. 

Dr. Joseph Robert Love moved to Kingston, Jamaica in 1889 so he could succeed more and make a better living for himself. Five years later, in December of 1894 he started the Jamaica Advocate newspaper. This newspaper consisted of his concern for the living conditions of Jamaicans. Love was also an advocate for the educated in Jamaica because he believed that girls should be receiving the same secondary education as boys. While in Jamaica, he published two books. This first book he published was in 1892, “Romanism is Not Christianity” and the second book in 1897, “St. Peter’s True Position in the Church, Clearly Traced in the Bible”. Soon after he published both of his books, he was elected to the Jamaican House of Representatives in 1906. In the meantime, he served as the chairman of the St. Andrew Parochial Board. He also worked as the justice of peace in Kingston, the Kingston General Commissions, and a trustee of Wolmer’s schools.


Eventually Dr. Joseph Robert Love’s health began to fail and by 1910 he was forced to end his political career. Ultimately Love died on November 21, 1914 and was buried in the Half Way Tree near Kingston, Jamaica.

Thank you to our sources:

We want to give a special thanks to Uncrowned Community Builders and Wikipedia for providing the information for this story. Further readings on Dr. Joseph Robert Love are available on their websites.

If you have additional resources about Dr. Joseph Robert Love, please email us to let us know!

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