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Progressive National Baptist Convention (PNBC)

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November 14, 1961

The Progressive National Baptist Convention (PNBC) grew out of the September 1961 convention of the National Baptist Convention (NBC), which was held in Kansas City, Missouri. This event demonstrated the hostility of the NBC’s leadership to the use of nonviolent direct action tactics such as those used by the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC), the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), and the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE). NBC president J. H. Jackson had previously denounced the tactics of SNCC’s lunch counter sit-ins and CORE’s 1961 Freedom Rides, which Martin Luther King endorsed.

A group of younger ministers led by Gardner Taylor sought to overthrow Jackson and assume the leadership of the NBC. The convention ended with Jackson’s decisive victory over Taylor for president and King’s removal as vice president of the NBC’s National Sunday School and Baptist Training Union.

After Taylor’s defeat, he and other ministers left the NBC to form a splinter organization, PNBC, founded November 1961, in Cincinnati, Ohio. The new Baptist alliance championed the more militant direct action campaigns of SCLC, CORE, and SNCC. After the PNBC’s first president, T. M. Chambers, left in 1966, Taylor was elected PNBC president in 1967.

After King’s assassination in 1968, Taylor remarked in that year’s annual address to the PNBC: “As we remember Dr. Martin King’s trials and triumphs, we remember our part in them. Progressive Baptists may take justifiable pride in the unassailable fact which must now forever be true, that when he had no spiritual (denominational) home among Black Baptists, cast out from the house of his Fathers, Progressive Baptist gave him a Black Baptist (denominational) residence” (Progressive National Baptist Convention, Inc., “Civil Rights Advocacy and Activism”).


Garrow, Bearing the Cross, 1986.

Introduction, in Papers 5:34.

Progressive National Baptist Convention, Inc., “Civil Rights Advocacy and Activism,” (accessed on June 20, 2017).