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Mon, 10.19.1936

James Bevel, Activist, and Minister born

James Bevel

*James Bevel was born on this date in 1936. He was a Black Civil rights activist and minister.

Born in Itta Bena, Mississippi, James Luther Bevel grew up partly in Cleveland, Ohio.  After time in the military service, he became a minister. He enrolled in the American Baptist Theological Seminary in Nashville, Tennessee. There, he joined the Nashville chapter of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) led by the Reverend James Lawson.

In 1960, Bevel and other Black students trained by Lawson, including John Lewis, Diane Nash, Marion Barry, and Bernard Lafayette, organized sit-ins against segregated lunch counters. The students won a hard-fought, nonviolent victory. Then, as chairman of the Nashville student movement, Bevel participated in Freedom Rides to desegregate interstate travel and public accommodations throughout the South. In his home state, Bevel created the SCLC Mississippi Project for voting rights in 1962. However, in 1963, he was compelled to join the stalled desegregation struggle waged by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and the Reverend Fred Shuttlesworth in Birmingham, Alabama.

When King was jailed, Bevel organized Black children and marched against Commissioner Bull Connor's fire hoses and police dogs. The "Children's Crusade" led by Bevel turned the media tide in their favor.  Bevel brainstormed the March On Washington in 1963 and the Selma, Alabama, to Montgomery march in 1965.  He also worked behind the scenes on the Chicago open housing movement in 1966, the anti-Vietnam War movement in 1967, the Memphis sanitation workers strike, and the Poor People's Campaign in 1968.

In 1969, Bevel left SCLC and created the Making of a Man Clinic in 1970. In the 1980s and 1990s, he founded Students for Education and Economic Development (SEED). In 1992, he ran for vice president on a ticket with Lyndon LaRouche. Bevel was pastor of the Hebraic-Christian-Islamic Assembly in Chicago; a board member of Chicago's Fulfilling Our Responsibilities Unto Mankind (F.O.R.U.M.); and chairman of the Camden, New Jersey, County Economic Development Board. Bevel is Pastor and adviser to Chicago's Council of Mothers, West Side Baptist Minister's Conference, Workshop Coalition, and the Nation of Islam.

He was instrumental in the formation of the 1995 Million-Man March. In 2007, Bevel was arrested in Alabama on charges of incest committed sometime between October 1992 and October 1994 in Loudoun County, Virginia; Bevel was living in Leesburg, Virginia, at the time and working with LaRouche's group, whose international headquarters was a few blocks from Bevel's apartment. The accuser, one of his daughters, was 13–15 years old and lived with him in the Leesburg apartment.

On April 10, 2008, after a three-hour deliberation, the jury found Bevel guilty, his bond was revoked, and he was taken into custody. The judge sentenced him on October 15, 2008, to 15 years in prison and fined him $50,000.  After the verdict, Bevel claimed that the charges were part of a conspiracy to destroy his reputation and said he might appeal. He received an appeal bond on November 4, 2008, and was released from jail three days later, six weeks before his death from pancreatic cancer, at age 72, in a hospice home in Springfield, Virginia, manned by his wife Erica and his daughter Sherri.

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