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Reverend Dr. Marvin Griffin’s civil rights activism was grounded in the Christian gospel. As pastor of New Hope Baptist Church of Waco (1951-1969) and Ebenezer Baptist Church of Austin (1969-2011), he preached the importance of social justice and fought for racial and economic equality.
The black churches’ deep connection to the community and its well-being translated into a vocal and leading role in the struggle for black equality, especially during the civil rights movement. Pastors like the Reverend Marvin Griffin (1923-2013) assumed leadership roles within the movement and delivered sermons on black rights, racial integration, and the importance of systemic reform. Griffin also used his leadership positions within the Baptist Church to spread the message of civil rights to other church leaders. In 1973 he presented this series of talks to the National Baptist Sunday School and Baptist Training Union Congress.
The mission of the Christian experience is expressed in the gospel of liberation, sharing the good news of what God has done to deliver his people from oppression. The gospel of liberation is rooted in the Judeo-Christian faith. This is good news for an oppressed people. God is the God of freedom, He participates in the historical process to free His people from oppression and bondage.Rev. Dr. Martin Griffin, excerpt from speeches
Griffin’s activism extended beyond his pulpit. While living in Waco, he formed a council of prominent members of the black community who worked to integrate the city. The committee created a plan with the all-white House of Congress that gradually and quietly desegregated Waco’s businesses. Griffin also worked to secure job opportunities for members of the black community, integrate the Waco Public School District, and expand black voter registration.
Moving to Austin’s Ebenezer Baptist Church in 1969, Griffin continued to be both a spiritual and social leader. He spearheaded the church’s establishment of the East Austin Economic Development Corporation, which provides affordable housing programs, child care, counseling, and financial assistance to economically disadvantaged people in Austin. In 1978, he became the first black man to serve as chairman of the Austin Independent School District Board of Trustees, where he helped integrate AISD schools. Griffin retired in 2011 after fifty years of preaching the gospel, advocating for social justice and empowering others to create change.