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Reverend Gayraud Wilmore

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Information about Reverend Gayraud Wilmore

Profile image of Reverend Gayraud Wilmore

Profession

Category:
ReligionMakers
Occupation(s):
Pastor
Theologian

Favorites

Favorite Color:
Brown
Favorite Food:
Chicken
Favorite Time of Year:
Spring
Favorite Vacation Spot:
Abaco Island, Bahamas
Favorite Quote:
None

Birthplace

Born:
12/20/1921
Birth Location:
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Profession

Category:
ReligionMakers
Occupation(s):
Pastor
Theologian

Favorites

Favorite Color:
Brown
Favorite Food:
Chicken
Favorite Time of Year:
Spring
Favorite Vacation Spot:
Abaco Island, Bahamas
Favorite Quote:
None

Birthplace

Born:
12/20/1921
Birth Location:
Philadelphia
See how Reverend Gayraud Wilmore is related to other HistoryMakers

Biography

Writer, historian, educator and theologian Gayraud Stephen Wilmore was born on December 20, 1921 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. His mother was a domestic worker and his father, a World War I veteran, was an office clerk. His parents were active in the community where he grew up, and his father founded the first Black American Legion Post in Pennsylvania. He attended Central High School later renamed Benjamin Franklin where he was active in the drama club and wrote for the student newspaper. In 1937 Wilmore, just a junior in high school won a citywide contest for an essay he had written on Benjamin Franklin. He was also a member of the Young Communist League; he left the organization several years later after he discovered “he would not be allowed to think for himself.” He received his high school diploma in 1938. After high school, his studies at Lincoln University were interrupted when he was drafted into the army.

As a “Buffalo Soldier,” he served with the all black 92nd Infantry division in Italy. In 1943, he received his call to the ministry while dodging bullets in a foxhole during the war. He received his bachelor’s of arts degree in 1947 and his bachelor’s of divinity in 1950 from Lincoln University. He was also installed as the pastor of the Second Presbyterian Church in Westchester, Pennsylvania in 1950, and would serve that congregation for three years. In 1951, Wilmore helped integrate Westchester elementary schools; his son was the first black student to attend an all white school. In 1953, he began his work with students as an associate executive with the United Presbyterian Church’s Department of Social Education and Action, a position he held for five years. From 1959 to 1963, Wilmore was an assistant professor of social ethics at Pittsburgh Theological Seminary. From there, he served as the executive director of the United Presbyterian Commission on Religion and Race until 1972. In that position, he helped to organize and train ministers who participated in boycotts and protests in the South during the Civil Rights movement. From 1972-1974, he taught Social Ethics at Boston University School of Theology, and then taught Black church studies at Colgate Rochester Divinity School until 1983. Wilmore served as the dean of the divinity program at New York Theological Seminary until 1987 before becoming a teacher of church history at the Interdenominational Theological Center in Atlanta. In 1990, he became the editor of The Journal of the ITC, and he remained in that post for five years. From 1995-1998, Wilmore was an adjunct professor at the United Theological Seminary in Dayton, Ohio.

Wilmore has written and edited sixteen books including Black Religion and Black Radicalism: An Interpretation of the Religious History of African Americans, which was published in 1998, and Pragmatic Spirituality, which was published in June of 2004. He is also the recipient of innumerable awards and honors.

Wilmore was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on June 21, 2004.

See how Reverend Gayraud Wilmore is related to other HistoryMakers
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  • Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Reverend Gayraud Wilmore's interview
  • Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Reverend Gayraud Wilmore lists his favorites
  • Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Reverend Gayraud Wilmore describes his mother's family background
  • Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Reverend Gayraud Wilmore talks about his father's family background
  • Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Reverend Gayraud Wilmore describes his mother's personality
  • Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Reverend Gayraud Wilmore describes his father's work and personality
  • Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Reverend Gayraud Wilmore talks about his maternal and paternal grandparents
  • Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Reverend Gayraud Wilmore describes his earliest childhood memories
  • Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Reverend Gayraud Wilmore describes his family life growing up in North Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
  • Tape: 1 Story: 10 - Reverend Gayraud Wilmore describes the sights, sounds and smells of growing up in North Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
  • Tape: 1 Story: 11 - Reverend Gayraud Wilmore talks about his experiences attending Elisha Kent Kane School in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
  • Tape: 1 Story: 12 - Reverend Gayraud Wilmore describes his childhood personality
  • Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Reverend Gayraud Wilmore describes his siblings
  • Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Reverend Gayraud Wilmore talks about winning a city-wide essay contest in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
  • Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Reverend Gayraud Wilmore talks about individuals who influenced him growing up in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
  • Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Reverend Gayraud Wilmore describes his experience at Benjamin Franklin High School in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
  • Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Reverend Gayraud Wilmore talks about founding a drama club and joining the Young Communists League as a teenager
  • Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Reverend Gayraud Wilmore talks about his aspirations as a high school student at Benjamin Franklin High School in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
  • Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Reverend Gayraud Wilmore talks about his decision to go to Lincoln University in Pennsylvania
  • Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Reverend Gayraud Wilmore describes his experiences at Lincoln University in Pennsylvania
  • Tape: 2 Story: 9 - Reverend Gayraud Wilmore talks about being enlisted in the U.S. Army
  • Tape: 2 Story: 10 - Reverend Gayraud Wilmore talks about completing his college education at Lincoln University in Pennsylvania and attending seminary school
  • Tape: 2 Story: 11 - Reverend Gayraud Wilmore talks about his affiliation to the Communist Party and timeline following his stint with the U.S. Army
  • Tape: 2 Story: 12 - Reverend Gayraud Wilmore describes his wife's reaction to his decision to enter the ministry
  • Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Reverend Gayraud Wilmore talks about his calling to the ministry while he was in combat during World War II
  • Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Reverend Gayraud Wilmore describes his work with the Mid-Atlantic student Christian movement
  • Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Reverend Gayraud Wilmore explains how he became active in the Civil Rights Movement through the Presbyterian church, pt. 1
  • Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Reverend Gayraud Wilmore describes his experiences working in the South during the Civil Rights Movement
  • Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Reverend Gayraud Wilmore explains how he became active in the Civil Rights Movement through the Presbyterian church, pt. 2
  • Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Reverend Gayraud Wilmore talks about resigning from his work with the Presbyterian church in New York, New York
  • Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Reverend Gayraud Wilmore talks about his experiences teaching at Colgate Rochester Crozer Divinity School in Rochester, New York
  • Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Reverend Gayraud Wilmore talks about his students, including what he hopes they have gained
  • Tape: 3 Story: 9 - Reverend Gayraud Wilmore describes his seminary teaching experiences in Atlanta, Georgia
  • Tape: 3 Story: 10 - Reverend Gayraud Wilmore talks about his writing and challenges facing African American churches
  • Tape: 3 Story: 11 - Reverend Gayraud Wilmore describes an experience his family shared with white neighbors while living in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and his sermon topics
  • Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Reverend Gayraud Wilmore talks about effects of the Black Power movement on education about African American history and religion
  • Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Reverend Gayraud Wilmore talks about the importance of white ministries to acknowledge and incorporate African American church history
  • Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Reverend Gayraud Wilmore reflects upon his ministry to students
  • Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Reverend Gayraud Wilmore reflects upon ministerial goals, his chosen career and his late father's support for his writing
  • Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Reverend Gayraud Wilmore describes his hope and concerns for the African American community
  • Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Reverend Gayraud Wilmore explains the importance of African American history
  • Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Reverend Gayraud Wilmore describes how he would like to be remembered
  • Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Reverend Gayraud Wilmore reflects upon his legacy
  • Tape: 4 Story: 9 - Reverend Gayraud Wilmore narrates his photographs