Monday, January 15, 2007


I was going to write about Martin Luther King, Jr. (not a bad wikilink) as just a mediocre career minister who happened to have the civil rights thing thrust upon him by circumstances.

Luckily I consulted our fact-check crew (no holiday for them).

I knew MLK’s dad was a minister in Atlanta and that Jr grew up middle class. I always figured he was kind of a playboy. “Ebenezer Baptist Church” definitely has a silvery ring to it.

I sort of knew that his first gig as a minister was in Montgomery at the Dexter Avenue Baptist Church. This was his base when he led the bus boycott.

It turns out, the previous pastor of Dexter Ave. was Vernon Johns (wikilink). Vernon Johns was one of the most prominent civil rights activists in the south, prior to the bus boycott and the emergence of King.

That he succeeded Vernon Johns tells me that Martin had already chosen a civil-rights involved career path.

There’s an online biography of Vernon Johns at this link.

I must have heard the name Vernon Johns a few times, but I continue to be astounded by my own ignorance.

The civil rights movement didn’t start with the Montgomery bus boycott. The Gay rights movement didn’t start with Stonewall.

The names of the people who kept the flame alive during the darkest days will mostly be forgotten. They deserve our gratitude, and honor, too.

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