Roy Wilkins’s biography appears in the introduction to his May 22, 1955 speech in Belzoni, Mississippi.
Before the largest religious body of blacks in the United States, Roy Wilkins takes as his biblical text Paul’s second letter to the Corinthians. In bearing about in our bodies the death and life of Jesus, Wilkins urges “above all” that the faith from Christ’s dying would bring “new and abundant life for all people forever.” That faith and promise were particularly acute in 1956 since “we are confronted with a great moral problem, a problem of how to do justice under our laws and our Constitution to those who heretofore have not had either justice or equality under those laws and that Constitution.” Less a legal or a political problem, by defining segregation as a moral and thus a spiritual problem, Wilkins brings contemporary problems of race directly into the convention hall of this conservative group. And, whereas Wilkins had been critical of the black clergy’s inactivity in previous addresses, in Denver he has nothing but praise: “the church and the ministers have stood like a rock. Not only have the Negro Churchmen (with but few exceptions) resisted all efforts to get them to take sides with the segregationists, but they have