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T.J. Jemison
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Advocate
    (1918-November 15, 2013)
    Born in Selma, Alabama
    Birth name was Theodore Judson Jemison
    Baptist minister and civil rights leader
    Organized a bus boycott in Baton Rouge, Louisiana (June 20-24, 1953)
    Founding member of the Southern Christian Leadership Council (1957)
    President of the National Baptist Convention USA, Inc. (1982-94)
    The results of the bus boycott stopped well short of integration: the first two rows of buses remained whites only, black passengers had to board through the rear entrance while whites used the front, and blacks and whites were barred from sitting in the same row.
    He founded the National Campaign for Mercy for Mike Tyson to try to get a suspended sentence for the boxer after his rape conviction.
    Cynics suggested his interest in the Tyson case was inspired mainly by Tyson's pledge of $5 million to pay off the mortgage on the recently built Baptist World Center.
    He was taped apparently offering the family of Tyson victim Desiree Washington $1 million to drop the case.
    He was indicted on perjury charges after he denied making the offer while under oath as a character witness in an unrelated case (1992).
    The Baton Rouge bus boycott is believed to be the first organized non-violent civil rights campaign in the South.
    The boycott did change seating on the buses to a 'first come, first seated' basis (except in the two rows reserved for whiles), eliminating the situation of black passengers standing in the back while seats in the white half remained empty.
    When Martin Luther King, Jr., led a bus boycott in Montgomery, Alabama, he consulted with Jemison about organizing car pools to replace the bus service and said Jemison's advice was 'invaluable.'
    He later campaigned for department stores to hire black clerks and for the sheriff's office to hire black deputies.
    A US District Court threw out the perjury charges (1993).

Credit: C. Fishel


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