Civil rights was preacher's passion

June 9, 2013 

See for yourself if Rev. Will D. Campbell passes the test for the use of that most overused word, “unique.” He was the son of Mississippi cotton farmers who became a civil rights leader. He was an ordained preacher with a country style and an alum of Yale Divinity School. He drank with Klansmen and marched with Martin Luther King. He made moonshine. He could quote the Bible like a prophet and keep up cussin’ like a sailor. He gave up on organized religion but was still a believer.

Campbell, 88, died last week in Nashville, Tenn. He was a character, and Nashville was a fitting final stop, as Campbell was known to play guitar and hang out with music industry types. And he had a North Carolina connection: a degree from the former Wake Forest College, class of 1950.

Civil rights was his passion all his life. He sat in. He integrated churches and schools. And he believed in a God who saved bigots as well as the enlightened. Amen.

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