Major black Baptist leader marks retirement

Posted: Friday, February 06, 2004

BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) Hundreds of friends, preachers and politicians crowded a hotel ballroom to mark the Rev. T.J. Jemison's retirement from Mount Zion First Baptist Church after 54 years.

Jemison, 85, was president of his denomination, the National Baptist Convention, U.S.A., Inc., for 12 years.

In 1953, Jemison helped organize an eight-day boycott of Baton Rouge's bus system. It ended when a City Council ordinance dedicated the first two seats of the bus for white passengers and reserved the back bench for blacks.

Martin Luther King Jr. used advice from Jemison in managing the more famous Montgomery, Ala., bus boycott. He wrote:

''Knowing that Jemison and his associates had set up an effective private car pool, I put in a long-distance call to ask him for suggestions for a similar pool. ... His painstaking description of the Baton Rouge experience was invaluable.''

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