Eugene Carson Blake
Vice Chairman, Commission on Religion and Race, National Council of Churches
|Reverend Eugene Carson Blake was a major force in the American Protestant community throughout the 1950 and ’60s, pushing for unity and progressivism. As a talented organizer he helped to bring churches to the forefront of many social causes of the day, including civil rights.
Compared to his fellow organizers, he was fairly new to the civil rights movement. He had just been arrested in July 1963, along with members of the Congress on Racial Equality, for protesting an all-white amusement park in Maryland. After his arrest he commented, “Churchgoers should stop regarding God as a white, American idol.” For many black Protestants, Rev. Blake’s actions gave authenticity to the churches’ commitment to the civil rights movement. His speech at the March on Washington was a humble acknowledgment of their relatively late arrival to the movement, and he spoke forcefully about the need for all religious leaders to come together in order to achieve a racially integrated society.