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Rev. T.J. Jemison Dead: Civil Rights Leader Dies At 95 In Baton Rouge

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Mary Briscoe (left) and Sandra Ann Jones are escorted by the Rev. T.J. Jemison, local African American leader, after they came out of jail in Baton Rouge, La. on April 4, 1960. | ASSOCIATED PRESS

Rev. T.J. Jemison, a father of the civil rights movement, passed away on Nov. 15 in Baton Rouge, La., at the age of 95. A founding member of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference along with the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., the Rev. Ralph Abernathy, and the Rev. Fred L. Shuttlesworth, Jemison was known as the architect of the 1953 Baton Rouge bus boycott, which foreshadowed the one led by Rosa Parks.

His legacy is not forgotten, as President Barack Obama issued a statement on his passing that said:

As we mark the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington for Jobs and Justice, we remember the legacy of trailblazers like T.J. Jemison, and commit ourselves to carrying that legacy forward in the years to come. Our nation is a better place because of Reverend Jemison’s struggle and sacrifice, and our thoughts and prayers are with his family, friends, and loved ones.

He passed away at 5:30 p.m. at our Lady of the Lake Regional Medical Center, in the city he had touched so deeply.

Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. mentioned the advice he received from Jemison with regards to setting up a bus boycott in his book, "Stride Toward Freedom," describing the value of his contribution.

"Knowing that Jemison and his associates had set up an effective private carpool, I put in a long-distance telephone call to ask him for suggestions for a similar pool in Montgomery," Rev. King said. "As I expected, his painstaking description of the Baton Rouge experience was invaluable."

Jemison would later go on to lead the National Baptist Convention U.S.A. as president from 1982 to 1994. He created the World Baptist Center in Nashville, which was the first national headquarters of a predominantly black church in the United States.

After his death, his body lay in repose at the Louisiana State Capitol in Baton Rouge, where mourners could pay tribute to his contributions and sacrifices for the sake of civil rights.

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