Explorations in Black Leadership

Co-Directed by Phyllis Leffler & Julian Bond

Johns, Vernon (1892–1965)

An early activist in the civil rights movement, Johns was a farmer, a pastor, and a mentor to Martin Luther King Jr. Educated at the Virginia Theological Seminary and Oberlin College, he was known for his bold activism, controversial sermons, and challenging his congregations to do more. He preceded Martin Luther King Jr. as the pastor of Dexter Avenue Baptist Church from 1947 to 1952, and his ideas paved the way for MLK’s socially active ministerial teachings.