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Thu, 08.01.1918

Rev. T. J. Jemison, Minister born

Rev. T. J. Jemison

*On this date in 1918, T. J. Jemison was born.  He was a Black minister and activist.   Theodore Judson Jemison was born in Selma, Alabama where his father, the Reverend David V. Jemison, was the pastor of the Tabernacle Baptist Church. He came from a family of prominent ministers and strong churchgoing women. The youngest of six children, he attended local segregated public schools.

Jemison earned a bachelor's degree from Alabama State University, an HBCU in the state capital of Montgomery, where he joined the Alpha Phi Alpha fraternity.  He earned a divinity degree at Virginia Union University in Richmond, Virginia, to prepare for the ministry. He later did graduate study at New York University in New York City.  In 1953, while minister of a large church in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, Jemison helped lead the Baton Rouge Boycott, one of the first civil rights boycott of segregated seating in public bus services. The organization of free rides, coordinated by churches, was a model used later in 1955–1956 by the Montgomery Bus Boycott in Alabama.  Jemison was one of the founders of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference in 1957.  Jemison was the president of the National Baptist Convention, USA, Inc. from 1982 to 1994. It is the largest African American religious organization.

He oversaw the construction of the Baptist World Center in Nashville, Tennessee, the headquarters of the convention.  In 2003, the 50th anniversary of the Baton Rouge bus boycott was honored with three days of events in the city. These were organized by a young resident born two decades after the action.   Theodore Judson Jemison died on November 15, 2013.   U.S. Representative Cedric Richmond, from Louisiana's 2nd congressional district, based in New Orleans, described himself and other African American legislators as "direct beneficiaries of the hard work, commitment, and courage of Dr. Jemison." Reading a statement of U.S. President Barack H. Obama, Richmond described Jemison as "part of the generation that challenged the conscience of our nation and moved us toward justice and equality for all."   

On March 11, 2017, Jemison was among five persons inducted into the Louisiana Political Museum and Hall of Fame in Winnfield. He was cited posthumously for his pioneering work in the Southern Christian Leadership Conference and his pastorate of the Mount Zion First Baptist Church of Baton Rouge.  



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