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Jeff Jacoby

Stain of racism is finally fading in America

I HAVE A DREAM, said Martin Luther King in 1963, that someday “on the red hills of Georgia, the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners will be able to sit down together at the table of brotherhood.” King was a prodigious dreamer, but even he might have found it hard to imagine that thousands of those listening to him that day would live to see a black pastor elected — unanimously and enthusiastically — to lead the Southern Baptist Convention.

It was in Georgia before the Civil War that the Southern Baptist Convention had been born, in large part to ensure that black and white would never sit down together, at the table of brotherhood or anywhere else. Beginning in 1845 as a breakaway from the anti-slavery Baptist churches in the North, the Southern Baptist Convention would grow into the nation’s foremost Protestant denomination — and one of its most racist.

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