In 1948 Dr Vernon Johns, a straight talking man, became pastor & leader of the Dexter Baptist church in Montgomery, Alabama – predecessor to Dr Martin Luther King Jr. The church helped instigate the civil rights movement in America in the 1950s.
Vernon Johns previous to this post had been pastor of many churches upsetting congregations by preaching freedom & equality for black people. His motto that he inherited from his father was, ‘when you see a good fight – get in it’.
His ‘fight’ was to turn people from a state of appeasement towards oppressors to standing up against injustice. The congregation of the Baptist church eventually turned to his way of thinking in a climate of persecution and trouble as he courageously challenged the status quo. He was later dismissed by the elders who found him a ‘trouble maker’ and ‘rocking the boat’. The seeds for equality & freedom though had already been sown.
Dr Martin Luther King Jr. aged 26 carried on where Vernon Johns had left off, leading the church and peaceful non-violent protests, the first being the ‘bus system boycott’ which after 381 days removed segregation within buses. Further protests followed culminating in the ‘great march to freedom rally’ in 1963 changing the direction of America.
Although Vernon Johns is an unsung hero his legacy is no less important of that of Martin Luther King Jr. He paved the way, prepared the ground, for a different type of leader who was to follow, who shared the same vision, and was able to take the cause to a new level gathering people into a movement.
History shows us leadership comes in different forms, purposes and prominence. All have their place, and can be appreciated and celebrated for their benefit to us.
If you wish to know more please click on link for the Vernon Johns story: https://youtu.be/yD1ZJ1tG_fM
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