Teaching Christ Through the Black Experience

Collection of speeches from Civil Rights Pastor Marvin Griffin

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Rev. Dr. Marvin Griffin’s civil rights activism was grounded in the Christian gospel. As pastor of Waco’s New Hope Baptist Church (1951‒1969) and Austin’s Ebenezer Baptist Church (1969–2011), he preached the importance of social justice and fought for racial and economic equality.

Black churches’ deep connection to community and its wellbeing have translated into a vocal and prominent role in the struggle for Black equality, especially during the Civil Rights Movement. Pastors like Rev. Dr. Marvin Griffin (1923–2013) assumed leadership roles within the movement and gave 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 civil rights message to other church leaders. In 1973, he presented this series of speeches 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 in delivering 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 liberate 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 Chamber of Congress that gradually and quietly desegregated Waco businesses. Griffin also worked to secure job opportunities for Black community members, integrate the Waco Public School District, and expand Black voter registration.

Relocating to Austin’s Ebenezer Baptist Church in 1969, Griffin continued to be both a spiritual and social leader. He led the church’s creation of the East Austin Economic Development Corporation, which provides affordable housing programs, day care centers, counseling, and financial assistance to Austin’s economically disadvantaged. In 1978, he became the first Black man to serve as president of the Austin Independent School District Board of Directors, 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.

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