Free Republic
Browse · Search
Topics · Post Article

Skip to comments.

Will D. Campbell, preacher and civil rights activist*, *dies at 88 (* AND PRO LIFE ACTIVIST)
Washinton Post ^ | June 08, 2013 | Emily Langer

Posted on 06/15/2013 10:43:23 AM PDT by Mrs. Don-o

The Rev. Will D. Campbell, a self-described “bootleg preacher” who became the most prominent white clergyman in the South to fight for racial equality during the civil rights movement, died June 3 in Nashville. He was 88.

Rev. Campbell was ordained a minister while still in his teens but came to distrust organized religion and to prefer preaching anywhere, as he liked to say, but under a steeple. He documented his life and philosophy in more than a dozen books, including “Brother to a Dragonfly,” a finalist for a 1978 National Book Award.

Growing up during the Great Depression, he lived on a small Mississippi cotton farm. He understood the struggles and fears of poor whites in the South and sought not to judge the racists among them. “Mr. Jesus died for the bigots as well,” Rev. Campbell was quoted as saying.

At the same time, he observed the indignity suffered by blacks in the Jim Crow era and dedicated nearly his entire adult life to bringing it to an end. Trusted by both blacks and whites, he straddled the two worlds of the segregated South.

“Will Campbell was one of the few people who could offer support on both sides,” said Bernard LaFayette Jr., a Baptist minister and civil rights leader. “Blacks needed to know that there were whites who supported what they were doing . . . and then there were those whites who were absolutely convinced that things could never change.”

Rev. Campbell was the only white person present at the founding in 1957 of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, the organization then led by Martin Luther King Jr. Initially, some of the black organizers argued against admitting him.

“Let this man in,” said Bayard Rustin, one of the leaders, “We need him.”

(Excerpt) Read more at ...

TOPICS: Culture/Society; News/Current Events; Philosophy; US: Tennessee
KEYWORDS: abortion; baptist; kkk; prolife

I want you to look at this face again.

Yes, Will Campbell was a Civil Rights leader, a Baptist preacher, a Southern red-neck farmer, a disciple of Jesus Christ, a hell-raiser (in the sense of actually elevating any poor damned s.o.b. he ran into), and a very good man.

But I'm amazed at what this brief obit doesn't say: he was also an anti-abortion advocate for whom the adjective "pro-life" had very big dimensions; and he was not so much an activist as a minister --- a "man who ministered" ---who had a genius for friendship.

I had the privilege of sharing the back seat with him on a long car ride from a Kansas City Right to Life meeting. He got to passing a paper bag with a bottle of George Dickel back and forth amongst us (the driver didn't imbibe) and translating Scriptures from Greek "from the air," so to speak, sharing hilarious stories sacred and profane.

He'd counseled, lovingly cudgeled and prayed with Johnny Cash, Willie Nelson, Dick Gregory, Jules Feiffer and Studs Terkel; he had friends who were red as the Russian flag and black as Bayard Rustin, and white, Anglo-Tennessee and Southern Partisan to the highest possible distillation. He ministered to members of the Ku Klux Klan and visited Martin Luther King's murderer, James Earl Ray, in prison.

That made many civil-rightsers, black and white, turn away from him. He also spoke out frequently against abortion to anyone who would listen to him, at which time many on the stopped listening; but some didn't.

Being "correct" in other people's eyes meant nothing to him; but the person in front of him meant everything. And why? Because he was a Christian and a pastor of souls.

He wrote about 2 dozen books, all of which are priceless, even though some of them are down to $0.01, used, at

A man of tough leathery mercy and personal integrity bordering on obstinacy (much like Jesus Christ Our Lord).

May he regale the choirs of Archangels; may his ardent intercessions aid us here below.

1 posted on 06/15/2013 10:43:23 AM PDT by Mrs. Don-o
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | View Replies]

To: don-o

Please ping any Tennesseeans, pro-lifers, hell-raisers or Baptists who might appreciate making the better acquaintance of Will Campbell -— in this life and the next

2 posted on 06/15/2013 10:45:17 AM PDT by Mrs. Don-o (Truth is stronger than faction.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: Mrs. Don-o
Wasn't he the inspiration for the preacher in the comic strip Kudzu? (Will B. Dunn)
3 posted on 06/15/2013 11:09:17 AM PDT by Verginius Rufus
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 2 | View Replies]

To: Verginius Rufus

Yeah, I’m told he was! :o)

4 posted on 06/15/2013 11:14:44 AM PDT by Mrs. Don-o (Truth is stronger than faction.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 3 | View Replies]

To: wardaddy; Roccus; bert


5 posted on 06/15/2013 11:47:28 AM PDT by don-o (He will not share His glory, and He will not be mocked! Blessed be the Name of the Lord forever!)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: don-o

I knew him in the early 60’s in Kentucky. He visited Union College, my alma. We were trying to get lynched during the Freedom Riders.

6 posted on 06/15/2013 12:49:37 PM PDT by Louis Foxwell (This is a wake up call. Join the Sultan Knish ping list.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 5 | View Replies]

To: Mrs. Don-o

The library here has a couple of his books. I got on the waiting list for them ... probably a brand-new waiting list, just since he died.

7 posted on 06/15/2013 1:33:33 PM PDT by Tax-chick (It's a caaaaaaaat!)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 3 | View Replies]

To: Mrs. Don-o; Pelham

I met him thru Waylum

Will was a thorough FDR style progressive....think Woody or Seeger

Red dog..not yellow

I did not know he was anti abortion

Waylon was not a leftist at all...the Cash folks loved Campbell as did my then girlfriend

Anyhow God bless him over infanticide opposition

8 posted on 06/15/2013 3:04:07 PM PDT by wardaddy (wanna know how my kin felt during Reconstruction in Mississippi, you fixin to find out firsthand)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: Mrs. Don-o


9 posted on 06/15/2013 5:05:27 PM PDT by fieldmarshaldj (Resist We Much)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

Disclaimer: Opinions posted on Free Republic are those of the individual posters and do not necessarily represent the opinion of Free Republic or its management. All materials posted herein are protected by copyright law and the exemption for fair use of copyrighted works.

Free Republic
Browse · Search
Topics · Post Article

FreeRepublic, LLC, PO BOX 9771, FRESNO, CA 93794 is powered by software copyright 2000-2008 John Robinson