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Henry H. Proctor
*Henry Proctor was born on this date in 1868. He was a Black author, minister, and lecturer.
Born near Fayetteville, Tenn., Henry Hugh Proctor was born to parents who were former slaves. Hannah Murray and Richard Proctor, a carpenter, had four older siblings. His parents dug ditches and preached sermons to pay for his degree from Fisk University. After graduating in 1891, he received a Bachelor of Divinity degree from Yale University in 1894 and was ordained into the Congregational ministry.
Proctor became pastor of the First Congregational Church in Atlanta, the second oldest Black Congregational church in the United States. In 1903, Proctor joined George Washington Henderson, president of Straight University in New Orleans, to found the National Convention of Congregational Workers Among Colored People, and Proctor became its first president. In 1904, Clark University awarded Proctor a Doctor of Divinity degree.
After the Atlanta Race Riot in 1906, Proctor and a white attorney worked together to quell tensions and formed the Interracial Committee of Atlanta. In the church, Proctor provided amenities lacking to Blacks, such as a library, a kindergarten, an employment bureau, a gymnasium, a ladies’ reading parlor, a music room, counseling services, and a model kitchen and sewing room for girls. He also helped open the first housing facility for young employed Black women. Proctor was a strong believer in self-improvement.
Proctor also founded the Atlanta Colored Music Festival Association, with concerts attended by both races, segregated but under one roof, believing that music could quell racial animosity. This festival continues to the present day as the Atlanta Music Festival. Henry H. Proctor died unexpectedly on May 12, 1933, and was buried in Atlanta.