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Reverend French

Reverend Edgar Nathaniel French (1921-1979)


Born in Mount Gilead, North Carolina, Edgar Nathaniel French received his B.A. from Livingstone College, M.Div. from Hood Theological Seminary, and M.A. from Columbia University. During the bus boycott French served as pastor of Hilliard Chapel A.M.E. Zion Church in Montgomery.  He later became Corresponding Secretary and a member of the Executive Board of the Montgomery Improvement Association (M.I.A).Rev. E.N. French who was referred to by Dr. Ralph Abernathy as the "Prophet of the Movement", and Dr. Martin Luther King referred to him as the "Spiritual Future of the Movement". He was indicted for his participation in the boycott. 

His pastoral ministry took him to several other place in North Carolina and South Carolina including Trinity A.M.E. Zion Church in Greensboro, North Carolina.  

For 19 years he served in several capacities at Livingstone College, including religious education instructor, officer of financial affairs, college minister, dean of student affairs. 

French was a member of Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity, Inc., the NAACP, a Mason and several professional organizations.

Rev. French was killed in a car accident in February of 1979.


Montgomery Improvement Association


Dr. King writes in Stride Toward Freedom that after the arrest and trial of Rosa Parks, Rev. Ralph David Abernathy of First Baptist Church, E. D. (Edgar Daniel) Nixon of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), and Rev. Edgar N. French of Hilliard Chapel AME Zion Church "discussed the need for some organization to guide and direct the protest." Rev. L. Roy Bennett of Mt. Zion AME Zion Church called a meeting of several community leaders that afternoon. On December 5, 1955, the Montgomery Improvement Association (MIA) was born, with Dr. King elected as its first president. After the Montgomery Bus Boycott victory, the MIA went on to be a founding organization of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC).


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