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Reverend Samuel Billy Kyles

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Information about Reverend Samuel Billy Kyles

Profile image of Reverend Samuel Billy Kyles

Profession

Category:
CivicMakers
ReligionMakers
Occupation(s):
Civil Rights Activist
Pastor

Favorites

Favorite Color:
Brown
Favorite Food:
Grapes
Favorite Time of Year:
Summer
Favorite Vacation Spot:
Anywhere Warm
Favorite Quote:
Don't You Dare Give Up. No Matter What Has Dealt You, Hold On.

Birthplace

Born:
9/26/1934
Birth Location:
Shelby, Mississippi

Profession

Category:
CivicMakers
ReligionMakers
Occupation(s):
Civil Rights Activist
Pastor

Favorites

Favorite Color:
Brown
Favorite Food:
Grapes
Favorite Time of Year:
Summer
Favorite Vacation Spot:
Anywhere Warm
Favorite Quote:
Don't You Dare Give Up. No Matter What Has Dealt You, Hold On.

Birthplace

Born:
9/26/1934
Birth Location:
Shelby
See how Reverend Samuel Billy Kyles is related to other HistoryMakers

Biography

The Reverend Samuel "Billy" Kyles was born in Shelby, Mississippi, on September 26, 1934. A longtime participant in the civil rights movement, Kyles was the founding pastor of the Monumental Baptist Church in Memphis, Tennessee in 1959.

After Memphis sanitation workers went on strike in February 1968 due to low pay and poor working conditions, Kyles led the effort to gain community support for the striking workers. He organized nightly rallies and raised money before scheduling a major rally for April 3, 1968. Kyles persuaded the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. to come to Memphis and speak at the event. Kyles accompanied King and his entourage that day and was on hand when King was assassinated in the early evening. Kyles is widely believed to be the only living person to have been with King during his dying hour.

Kyles has maintained his involvement with civil rights work since the 1960s. He belonged to several civic and professional organizations. Kyles was a founding member of the National Board of People United to Save Humanity (PUSH), the executive director of Rainbow/PUSH-Memphis and the executive producer of Rainbow/PUSH WLOK Radio. Kyles also worked on Jesse Jackson's 1984 and 1988 presidential campaigns and was a delegate to the First African National Congress. He was appointed by President Bill Clinton to serve on the Advisory Committee on Religious Freedom Abroad.

Kyles has appeared in several television documentaries about the life and assassination of King and has toured the country extensively, speaking on King and his message. Kyles received several honors and awards, including the Tennessee Living Legend Award in 1992.

Rev. Kyles passed away on April 26, 2016.

See how Reverend Samuel Billy Kyles is related to other HistoryMakers
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  • Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Reverend Samuel "Billy" Kyles' interview
  • Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Reverend Samuel "Billy" Kyles lists his favorites
  • Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Reverend Samuel "Billy" Kyles describes his family background
  • Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Reverend Samuel "Billy" Kyles describes his mother
  • Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Reverend Samuel "Billy" Kyles describes his father's background
  • Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Reverend Samuel "Billy" Kyles describes his father's career as a reverend
  • Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Reverend Samuel "Billy" Kyles describes his father
  • Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Reverend Samuel "Billy" Kyles describes his early childhood in Shelby, Mississippi
  • Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Reverend Samuel "Billy" Kyles describes growing up in Chicago, Illinois, pt. 1
  • Tape: 1 Story: 10 - Reverend Samuel "Billy" Kyles describes growing up in Chicago, Illinois, pt. 2
  • Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Reverend Samuel "Billy" Kyles talks about the Staples Singers
  • Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Reverend Samuel "Billy" Kyles talks about Sam Cooke
  • Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Reverend Samuel "Billy" Kyles describes the influence of gospel music on his young adult life
  • Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Reverend Samuel "Billy" Kyles describes his experiences attending Douglas Elementary School in Chicago, Illinois
  • Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Reverend Samuel "Billy" Kyles describes serving as a patrol boy at Douglas Elementary School in Chicago, Illinois
  • Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Reverend Samuel "Billy" Kyles talks about being on the track team at Wendell Phillips Academy High School in Chicago, Illinois
  • Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Reverend Samuel "Billy" Kyles remembers his father's death
  • Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Reverend Samuel "Billy" Kyles talks about his family's move to the housing projects following his father's death
  • Tape: 2 Story: 9 - Reverend Samuel "Billy" Kyles describes preaching his introductory sermon at Mt. Pleasant Missionary Baptist Church in Chicago, Illinois
  • Tape: 2 Story: 10 - Reverend Samuel "Billy" Kyles describes being elected as assistant pastor of Mt. Pleasant Missionary Baptist Church in Chicago, Illinois
  • Tape: 2 Story: 11 - Reverend Samuel "Billy" Kyles talks about Reverend H.R. Jelks
  • Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Reverend Samuel "Billy" Kyles describes how he began preaching at Monumental Baptist Church in Memphis, Tennessee
  • Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Reverend Samuel "Billy" Kyles describes being nurtured as a young preacher at Mt. Pleasant Missionary Baptist Church in Chicago, Illinois
  • Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Reverend Samuel "Billy" Kyles describes being elected as pastor of Monumental Baptist Church in Memphis, Tennessee
  • Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Reverend Samuel "Billy" Kyles talks about receiving a loan to purchase a building for Monumental Baptist Church in Memphis, Tennessee
  • Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Reverend Samuel "Billy" Kyles describes his move to Memphis, Tennessee
  • Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Reverend Samuel "Billy" Kyles talks about J.H. Jackson's failure to support the Civil Rights Movement
  • Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Reverend Samuel "Billy" Kyles talks organizing the Progressive National Baptist Convention with other ministers, including Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
  • Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Reverend Samuel "Billy" Kyles describes his involvement in the Civil Rights Movement in Memphis, Tennessee, pt. 1
  • Tape: 3 Story: 9 - Reverend Samuel "Billy" Kyles describes his involvement in the Civil Rights Movement in Memphis, Tennessee, pt. 2
  • Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Reverend Samuel "Billy" Kyles talks about his daughter's integrating an elementary school in Memphis, Tennessee
  • Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Reverend Samuel "Billy" Kyles describes his involvement with the Memphis Chapter of the NAACP
  • Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Reverend Samuel "Billy" Kyles describes how integration affected his daughter's schooling experiences
  • Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Reverend Samuel "Billy" Kyles describes how the Memphis Chapter of the NAACP provided a model for civil rights activism
  • Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Reverend Samuel "Billy" Kyles describes the Memphis Sanitation Workers Strike of 1968
  • Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Reverend Samuel "Billy" Kyles talks about Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s unsuccessful attempt to lead a march of Memphis sanitation workers strikers in 1968
  • Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Reverend Samuel "Billy" Kyles comments on numerous threats made against Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. during the Civil Rights Movement
  • Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Reverend Samuel "Billy" Kyles describes the violence that erupted during the 1968 Memphis Sanitation Workers march led by Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
  • Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Reverend Samuel "Billy" Kyles describes why Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. returned to Memphis after the failed Memphis sanitation workers march
  • Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Reverend Samuel "Billy" Kyles recalls Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.'s final speech, pt. 1
  • Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Reverend Samuel "Billy" Kyles recalls Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.'s final speech, pt. 2
  • Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Reverend Samuel "Billy" Kyles describes the final hours of Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.'s life, pt. 1
  • Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Reverend Samuel "Billy" Kyles describes the final hours of Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.'s life, pt. 2
  • Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Reverend Samuel "Billy" Kyles describes the assassination of Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
  • Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Reverend Samuel "Billy" Kyles describes how witnessing Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.'s assassination affected him
  • Tape: 5 Story: 8 - Reverend Samuel "Billy" Kyles talks about Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Day
  • Tape: 5 Story: 9 - Reverend Samuel "Billy" Kyles explains why he shares his memories of Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.'s death
  • Tape: 6 Story: 1 - Reverend Samuel "Billy" Kyles comments on Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s preparation for his death
  • Tape: 6 Story: 2 - Reverend Samuel "Billy" Kyles reflects upon the unique collective power of the Civil Rights Movement
  • Tape: 6 Story: 3 - Reverend Samuel "Billy" Kyles compares the ideologies of Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and Malcom X
  • Tape: 6 Story: 4 - Reverend Samuel "Billy" Kyles calls for more frequent discussions about the impact of slavery, pt. 1
  • Tape: 6 Story: 5 - Reverend Samuel "Billy" Kyles calls for more frequent discussions about the impact of slavery, pt. 2
  • Tape: 6 Story: 6 - Reverend Samuel "Billy" Kyles comments on Jim Crow and the resilience of African Americans
  • Tape: 6 Story: 7 - Reverend Samuel "Billy" Kyles describes the results of the 1968 Memphis Sanitation Workers Strike
  • Tape: 6 Story: 8 - Reverend Samuel "Billy" Kyles talks about the failure of the Poor People's Campaign
  • Tape: 6 Story: 9 - Samuel Kyles talks about the preparations for Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.'s funeral
  • Tape: 6 Story: 10 - Samuel Kyles describes why he does not want to write a book about his experiences in the Civil Rights Movement
  • Tape: 7 Story: 1 - Reverend Samuel "Billy" Kyles comments on Reverend Ralph Abernathy's autobiography, "And the Walls Came Tumbling Down," pt. 1
  • Tape: 7 Story: 2 - Reverend Samuel "Billy" Kyles comments on Reverend Ralph Abernathy's autobiography, "And the Walls Came Tumbling Down," pt. 2
  • Tape: 7 Story: 3 - Reverend Samuel "Billy" Kyles describes Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.'s leadership of the SCLC and the effect of his death on the organization
  • Tape: 7 Story: 4 - Reverend Samuel "Billy" Kyles talks about Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.'s children
  • Tape: 7 Story: 5 - Reverend Samuel "Billy" Kyles comments on the present-day SCLC
  • Tape: 7 Story: 6 - Reverend Samuel "Billy" Kyles describes his religious philosophy
  • Tape: 7 Story: 7 - Reverend Samuel "Billy" Kyles comments on the burden of leadership
  • Tape: 7 Story: 8 - Reverend Samuel "Billy" Kyles shares his hopes and concerns for the African American community
  • Tape: 8 Story: 1 - Reverend Samuel "Billy" Kyles describes what he would have done differently in his life
  • Tape: 8 Story: 2 - Reverend Samuel "Billy" Kyles talks about vote fraud during the election of Harold Ford, Sr., Tennessee's first African American U.S. Congressman
  • Tape: 8 Story: 3 - Reverend Samuel "Billy" Kyles talks about Harold Ford, Jr., who successfully ran for his father's U.S. Congress seat
  • Tape: 8 Story: 4 - Reverend Samuel "Billy" Kyles reflects upon his Christian service and his legacy
  • Tape: 8 Story: 5 - Reverend Samuel "Billy" Kyles talks about inspiring young people
  • Tape: 8 Story: 6 - Reverend Samuel "Billy" Kyles talks about how he would like to be remembered
  • Tape: 8 Story: 7 - Reverend Samuel "Billy" Kyles narrates his photographs