Civil rights pioneer, T.J. Jemison, dies at age 95

Nov. 26, 2013 at 5:29 PM
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BATON ROUGE, La., Nov. 26 (UPI) -- A Louisiana civil rights pioneer, the Rev. Theodore Judson Jemison, has died at age 95, a colleague at his Baton Rouge church said.

Known as "T.J.," Jemison died Nov. 15 at Our Lady of the Lake Regional Medical Center in Baton Rouge, said Todd Sterling, a trustee at Mount Zion First Baptist Church, The (Baton Rouge} Advocate reported.

Jemison had preached at the church for more than 50 years.

President Obama issued a statement saying he and first lady Michelle Obama "were saddened" to learn of Jemison's death.

"With visionary spirit and charisma, he led the country's first boycott of segregated seating on public buses 60 years ago, and he went on to help eradicate legal segregation and improve voting rights laws for disenfranchised Americans," the president said. "As a founding member of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference and former president of the National Baptist Convention, he inspired Americans across our country with the courage of his convictions and the depth of his faith."

"There's nobody that can replace him," East Baton Rouge Parish Mayor-President Kip Holden told The Advocate. "He was very unique and will go down as one of the most unique people that ever walked the streets of Baton Rouge."

In 1953, Jemison helped organize a boycott of Baton Rouge public buses by black passengers, who were banned by a city ordinance from sitting in front of white people. The Advocate said the eight-day protest did not end segregation aboard public buses, but did force the city to make concessions as to which seats black people could occupy.

The newspaper said the boycott served as a model for the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. as he planned the yearlong Montgomery bus boycott two years later.

Funeral arrangements for Jemison were pending, Hall Davis of Hall Davis and Son Funeral Service said.

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