Rev. Billy Graham, Friend of Martin Luther King, Dies at 99


The Rev. Billy Graham, a long time evangelical preacher who marched with Martin Luther King Jr. at Selma, died on Tuesday at the age of 99.

Evangelist Billy Graham marched with Rev. Martin Luther King at Selma. (Courtesy photo)

Graham and King were introduced at a meeting in 1957 according to “One night civil rights leader Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., whom I was pleased to count a friend, gave an eloquent opening prayer at the service; he also came at my invitation to one of our Team retreats during the Crusade [evangelical campaign] to help us understand the racial situation in America more fully,” Graham wrote in his autobiography “Just As I Am: The Autobiography of Billy Graham.”

Graham held thousands of mass evangelical campaigns over his lifetime and was a spiritual advisor to presidents Richard Nixon, Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush and George W. Bush, according to the Washington Post.

In 1963, the AFRO wrote about Graham, “Evangelist Billy Graham said in Atlanta last week he agrees with Dr. Dow Kirkpatrick, former Atlanta pastor now in Illinois, that the South will solve its racial problems before the North because “southern people have a warm person to person relation with colored that is not prevalent in the North.”

Following the death of King in 1968 Graham cited their friendship and his work on behalf of minorities. In 1976, in an AFRO story with the headline “Billy Graham cites work for minorities,” Graham said, “I walked side by side Martin Luther King on various occasions and cut short a crusade abroad to be at his side during the Selma-Montgomery march.”