Rhetoric, Religion and the Civil Rights Movement, 1954-1965

By Davis W. Houck; David E. Dixon | Go to book overview

§116 Kelly Miller Smith

Reverend Kelly Miller Smith was born on October 28, 1920 in the all-black community of Mound Bayou, Mississippi. Raised and educated in this southern town, Reverend Smith continued his higher education by entering Tennessee Agricultural and Industrial State College in 1938. He transferred to Morehouse College in Atlanta when he felt called to the ministry, earning his bachelor’s degree in 1942. He continued on to Howard University, where he earned an M.Div. in 1945. Howard later conferred on Smith an honorary doctorate degree in 1976.

Between 1946 and 1951 Reverend Smith presided as pastor of Mount Heroden Baptist Church in Vicksburg, Mississippi. In May of 1951 he became the pastor of First Baptist Church, Capitol Hill, Nashville’s first black Baptist church. Smith would serve First Baptist for the rest of his life, working locally as well as nationally, lending his hand to civil rights activity. First Baptist would become temporary home to a generation of activists—notably John Lewis, James Bevel, Bernard Lafayette, Diane Nash, and Marion Barry—as Smith allowed James Lawson to use the facility to hold workshops in nonviolent protest. At the time of the 1954 Brown vs. Board of Education ruling, Reverend Smith was president of the Nashville NAACP chapter. In 1955 he joined with 12 other black parents in a federal lawsuit to desegregate Nashville’s public schools. He was involved in the founding of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) in 1957 and founded the Nashville Christian Leadership Council in 1958 (NCLC), serving as president until 1963. This organization encompassed Reverend Smith’s ideals of nonviolent tactics in desegregating Nashville’s public facilities. He served in many organizations, notably as president of the National Conference of Black Christians and was a member of the board of directors for Morehouse College’s School of Religion. He delivered the Lyman Beecher lecture series at Yale University in 1983, which served as the basis for his 1984 book, Social Crisis Preaching. He was appointed assistant dean of Vanderbilt’s Divinity School in 1969 and served until his passing in 1984. His papers are housed at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tennessee.

Reverend Smith’s unique transformation of a newspaper photo to a Sunday message calls his congregation to consider their willingness for genuine concern in doing the will of God. In this sermon Smith poignantly moves the argument that Christians should be responsible in taking the call to action. Through convincing arguments, Smith shows how equal rights can be brought about by a “misfit,” one who must creatively fit into the mold of a Christian by fitting outside the mold of society. Reverend Smith calls for more misfits as many white and black churches merely give allegiance to the status quo, especially on the issue of segregation. He sheds light on the hypocritical position of churches that echo the sentiments of society’s unwillingness to desegregate. Moreover, Smith cautions his First Baptist

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Rhetoric, Religion and the Civil Rights Movement, 1954-1965
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Rhetoric, Religion and the Civil Rights Movement v
  • Contents ix
  • Preface xv
  • Introduction 1
  • 1954 17
  • 1954 - §1 Dr. Mordecai Wyatt Johnson 19
  • §2 Charles P. Bowles 31
  • §3 Reverend A. Powell Davies 36
  • §4 Frank P. Graham 42
  • §5 Mary Mcleod Bethune 49
  • §6 Dr. Benjamin E. Mays 55
  • §7 Dr. J. R. Brokhoff 65
  • §8 William Lloyd Imes 71
  • 1955 77
  • 1955 - §9 Sarah Patton Boyle 79
  • §10 Sarah Patton Boyle 82
  • §11 William Lloyd Imes 87
  • §12 Dr. James Hudson 93
  • §13 Mary Mcleod Bethune 96
  • §14 Roy Wilkins 99
  • §15 Albert D’orlando 107
  • §16 Dr. T. R. M. Howard 116
  • §17 Mamie Till-Bradley 131
  • §18 Reverend Robbins Ralph 145
  • §19 Sarah Patton Boyle 150
  • 1956 155
  • 1956 - §20 Branch Rickey 157
  • §21 Reverend Paul N. Carnes 166
  • §22 Dr. J. R. Brokhoff 172
  • §23 Horace Mann Bond 178
  • §24 Dr. James Hudson 187
  • §25 Dr. T. R. M. Howard 192
  • §26 Roy Wilkins 196
  • §27 Reverend D. Perry Ginn 202
  • 1957 207
  • 1957 - §28 P. D. East 209
  • §29 Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr 216
  • §30 Reverend James A. Pike 224
  • §31 Dr. Mordecai Wyatt Johnson 239
  • §32 Representative Adam Clayton Powell 243
  • §33 A. Philip Randolph 246
  • §34 Reverend Fred L. Shuttlesworth 250
  • §35 Dr. Channing H. Tobias 256
  • §36 Shad Polier 266
  • §37 Reverend Marion A. Boggs 270
  • §38 Reverend A. Powell Davies 277
  • §39 Marion A. Wright 284
  • 1958 293
  • 1958 - §40 Reverend James R. Bullock 295
  • §41 Dr. J. R. Brokhoff 302
  • §42 Reverend Fred L. Shuttlesworth 308
  • 1959 313
  • 1959 - §43 Chester Bowles 315
  • §44 Rabbi Max D. Davidson 325
  • §45 Reverend Colbert S. Cartwright 327
  • §46 Reverend Carlos E. Martin 333
  • §47 Reverend Edward Hughes Pruden 340
  • 1960 345
  • 1960 - §48 Governor Leroy Collins 347
  • §49 Reverend James Lawson 356
  • §50 Everett Tilson 362
  • §51 Dr. Benjamin E. Mays 368
  • §52 Dr. Frank P. Graham 377
  • §53 Reverend Edler Garnet Hawkins 382
  • §54 Reverend Will D. Campbell 385
  • §55 Leroy Collins 397
  • 1961 403
  • 1961 - §56 Dr. Haywood N. Hill 405
  • §57 Colbert S. Cartwright 408
  • §58 Reverend William O. Byrd 412
  • §59 Robert J. Mccracken 417
  • §60 Reverend Duncan Howlett 421
  • §61 Rev. Ralph David Abernathy 430
  • §62 Marion A. Wrigth 437
  • §63 James Mcbride Dabbs 445
  • 1962 455
  • 1962 - §64 Heslip “happy” Lee 457
  • §65 Reverend Fred L. Shuttlesworth 464
  • §66 Robert H. Walkup 468
  • §67 Robert H. Walkup 472
  • §68 Charles L. Stanford, Jr 476
  • §69 Reverend Duncan M. Gray, Jr 478
  • §70 Reverend George A. Chauncey 483
  • §71 James Mcbride Dabbs 489
  • §72 James Mcbride Dabbs 502
  • §73 Marion King 510
  • 1963 513
  • 1963 - §74 Reverend J. Claude Evans 515
  • §75 Reverend James A. Pike 522
  • §76 Edler Garnet Hawkins 527
  • §77 Reverend Wyatt Tee Walker 533
  • §78 Reverend J. V. Cosby Summerell 543
  • §79 James Bevel 547
  • §80 Bruce William Klunder 559
  • §81 Eugene Carson Blake 566
  • §82 Francis Gerald Ensley 574
  • §83 Eugene Carson Blake 581
  • §84 Archbishop Patrick O’boyle 583
  • §85 John Lewis 584
  • §86 Charles Morgan, Jr 587
  • §87 Reverend George H. Woodard 591
  • §88 Dick Gregory 596
  • §89 Dr. Arthur E. Shelton 622
  • §90 Frank T. Wilson 627
  • §91 Dave Dennis 631
  • §92 Dave Dennis 634
  • §93 Dr. Aaron Henry 637
  • §94 James Mcbride Dabbs 647
  • §95 Reverend Duncan Howlett 656
  • §96 David G. Colwell 662
  • §97 Robert W. Spike 667
  • §98 Reverend Lawrence Campbell 676
  • 1964 684
  • 1964 - §99 Ella Josephine Baker 685
  • §100 Reverend Edward W. Harris 688
  • §101 Reverend L. Wilson Kilgore 698
  • §102 Reverend Duncan Howlett 705
  • §103 James Mcbride Dabbs 713
  • §104 Mildred Bell Johnson 719
  • §105 Ralph David Abernathy 729
  • §106 Reverend Fred L. Shuttlesworth 738
  • §107 Thomas Merton 743
  • §108 Robert W. Spike 752
  • §109 Albert D’orlando 758
  • §110 Reverend Fred L. Shuttlesworth 766
  • §111 Robert W. Spike 768
  • §112 Dave Dennis and Reverend Edwin King 774
  • §113 Fannie Lou Hamer 784
  • §114 Father Theodore M. Hesburgh 794
  • §115 Reverend Robert J. Mccracken 813
  • 1965 819
  • 1965 - §116 Kelly Miller Smith 821
  • §117 Hearings before the United States Commission on Civil Rights 826
  • §118 Charles F. Wittenstein 852
  • §119 Reverend Duncan Howlett 857
  • §120 Albert D’orlando 865
  • §121 Roy Wilkins 871
  • §122 Robert A. Reed 873
  • §123 Reverend Duncan Howlett 877
  • §124 Morris B. Abram 884
  • §125 Jonathan Daniels 891
  • §126 Daniel Berrigan 898
  • §127 Reverend Ralph David Abernathy 902
  • §128 Kelly Miller Smith 908
  • §129 Gardner C. Taylor 914
  • §130 Theodore Parker Ferris 919
  • Bibliography 925
  • Index 971
  • Permissions Acknowledgments 997
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