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Theodore Roosevelt Mason Howard

In 1956, the influential black newspaper, the Chicago Defender, placed at the top of its honor roll of civil rights champions, not Martin Luther King, Jr., but Theodore Roosevelt Mason Howard (1908-1977). A graduate of Oakwood Junior College, Union College, and Loma Linda University (then the College of Medical Evangelists), Howard developed a stunning array of enterprises that served the impoverished all-black community of Mound Bayou, Mississippi. Howard was a talented orator who became a national civil rights spokesman in connection with the Emmitt Till lynching in 1954, and who mentored activists who went on to become enduring icons of civil rights, such as Medgar Evers and Fannie Lou Hamer. By the 1950s, Howard’s formal ties with Adventism were frayed, however, he remained a supporter of Adventist institutions and causes throughout his life, describing his work on behalf of the impoverished blacks in Mound Bayou as “medical missionary” work and a “practical application of the religion of Jesus Christ.”

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