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Baptist professor, civil-rights advocate dies
Bob Allen, Associated Baptist Press
October 01, 2010
3 MIN READ TIME

Baptist professor, civil-rights advocate dies

Baptist professor, civil-rights advocate dies
Bob Allen, Associated Baptist Press
October 01, 2010

A long-time Wake Forest

University religion professor active in the Civil Rights Movement died Sept.

29. McLeod Bryan, 90, is being remembered not only for his own work for peace

and justice, but also for influencing countless others through the years.

“I’m always running into

people who told me, ‘Your dad changed my life in class,’“ Bryan’s son, George, told

the Winston-Salem Journal.

The North Carolina native

received a B.A. (1941) and M.A. (1944) from the school — then known as Wake

Forest College — and a B.D. (1947) and Ph.D. (1951) from Yale University. He

was pastor of Olivet Baptist Church in New Haven, Conn., from 1945 until 1948.

He taught at Mars Hill College and Mercer University before joining the

religion department at Wake Forest in 1956.

Bryan stayed at Wake Forest

37 years, championing racial justice and human rights while teaching his

students about religion and ethics. Often controversial and an agent of change,

Bryan and others mounted a campaign to integrate

Wake Forest in 1963.

He also taught in South

Africa — where he was an early opponent of the country’s segregationist

apartheid regime — and at the International Baptist Theological Seminary in

Ruschlikon, Switzerland.

Like other outspoken whites

active in the Civil Rights Movement, Bryan was often vilified. His son said job

opportunities were withheld, and crosses were burned on his father’s lawn.

In a preface to Bryan’s 1999

book, Voices

in the Wilderness, author and fellow white Baptist civil-rights advocate

Will Campbell said Bryan “fits unquestionably within the line of prophets.”

Despite his academic achievements, Campbell said, Bryan always preferred to be

called “Mac.”

Published by Mercer

University Press, Voices in the Wilderness — subtitled Twentieth Century

Prophets Speak to the New Millennium — included Bryan’s autobiographical

reflections of his experiences with five influential people he knew, including

Martin Luther King Jr. and Clarence Jordan.

He wrote a total of 13

books, including These

Few Also Paid a Price, a compilation of testimonies of 30 Southern

whites who participated in the Civil Rights Movement juxtaposed with the white

majority’s intense opposition to any change in the racial status quo.

Bryan is survived by his

wife of 65 years, Edna, four children, eight grandchildren and two

great-grandchildren.

A graveside service will be

held at Bryan’s boyhood church, New Bethel Baptist Church in Garner, at

2:30 p.m. today (Oct. 1).

A memorial service is scheduled at 3 p.m. Oct. 3 at

Wake Forest Baptist Church in Winston-Salem, where he was a member, in Wait

Chapel on the Wake Forest campus.

Memorials may be made to the

G. McLeod Bryan Caring Award at Mars Hill College or Wake Forest University

Public Engagement for Religion.