Rev. Dr. Harvey Johnson:

the Preacher & 19th Century Activism

1843 - 1923

As African Americans in Baltimore sought to redefine themselves in the 1880s -- politcally, geographically, socially -- the city’s black pastorate served as a vital source of leadership. None of this group stood taller or closer to the vanguard the Rev. Dr. Harvey Johnson. Over the course of his illustrious career, Johnson did much to improve the standing of Baltimore blacks. Indeed, Harvey Johnson's work served notice to the rest of Black America that Baltimore would maintain into the twentieth century the reputation for solid, enlightened leadership established in the nineteenth century. At once, he was a renaissance man and a visionary. Image Source

The role of African American clergy in antebellum Baltimore is well documented. Numerous accounts have been uncovered which speak to the centrality of the church and the utility of the black preacher to all aspects of community life. The same has been discovered of twentieth century black pastors. The civil rights activity of the 1930s - 1960s was, if nothing else, an opportunity for the religious leaders of the day to continue the tradition of secular service and community involvement. Less well documented than these previous examples, however, is the work of Batimore's black pastors of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. These figures supplied the continuity between the eras of struggle, while waging significant battles of their own. Although several fine examples can be made, perhaps nothing else typified this era's commitment and passion than the life and work of Rev. Dr. Harvey Johnson, long-time leader of Union Baptist Church.

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