Abernathy, Ralph David

Abernathy, Ralph David

biographical name

(born March 11, 1926, Linden, Ala., U.S.—died April 17, 1990, Atlanta, Ga.) U.S. pastor and civil rights leader. He was educated at Alabama State University and Atlanta University. Ordained a Baptist minister in 1948, he became pastor of the First Baptist Church in Montgomery, Ala., in 1951. He met Martin Luther King, Jr., a few years later when the latter became pastor of another Baptist church in Montgomery. In 1955–56 the two men organized a nonviolent boycott of the city bus system, marking the beginning of the U.S. civil rights movement. In 1957 they founded the Southern Christian Leadership Conference. Abernathy became its president on King's assassination in 1968; in 1977 he resigned to resume work as a pastor in Atlanta. His autobiography, And the Walls Came Tumbling Down, appeared in 1989.

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