"The laborer that toils on a country road must know himself as the builder of a highway to a Christian civilization."
Reverend Vernon Johns was a Christian pastor and pioneer in the civil rights movement. He was one of the three most influential ministers who greatly influenced Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr. Reverend Johns pastored several African American churches in the South. His outspoken sermons on racial issues in the 1940s were extremely progressive for that era.
Reverend Johns urged people in his church to challenge the racial status quo and led protests himself. He also advocated for African American girls who had been raped by white men, demanding that their attackers be arrested and prosecuted.
His progressive civil rights activity paved the way for Martin Luther King, Jr., who later pastored the same church in Montgomery, Alabama that Reverend Johns led until 1953. King called Reverend Johns “a brilliant preacher with a creative mind” and “a fearless man [who] never allowed an injustice to come to his attention without speaking out against it.”
CENTERED ON CHRIST
Reverend Johns, a sincere Christian, followed in the footsteps of his father, who was also a preacher. As a very young child, Johns was already preaching about Jesus. He devoted his life to using the teachings of Jesus and the Bible to speak out against inequality.