African-American Religious Leaders by Nathan Aaseng

By Nathan Aaseng

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Nonetheless, Proctor had no reservations about recommending Butts to take over upon his retirement in 1989. The church board agreed, waiving a bylaw that required an outside search for a pastor and instead calling Butts. Once Butts took over as head pastor, with the weight of one of the black community’s most venerable institutions on his shoulders, his approach changed markedly. He looked around at the neighborhood and saw that despite decades of social action and advocacy, there had been no real change—it was continuing to deteriorate.

On a subsequent visit to Daytona Beach, Florida, Mary McLeod Bethune discovered a woeful Bethune, Mary McLeod 21 Thwarted in her dream to be a missionary, Mary McLeod Bethune made the education of blacks her new mission field. (Library of Congress) lack of educational opportunities for black children. She responded by founding the Daytona Normal and Industrial Institute for Negro Girls, which she patterned after her own experience at Scotia Seminary. The venture required courage and a strong faith, especially when only five girls enrolled for the first session.

She continued her practice with Roshi Wendy Egyoku Nakao and received the Perceptor Transmission, which empowered her to lead others in their practice, in 2002. In 2006, she became the 24 Boyd, Richard Henry first African American to receive the Dharma transmission. The Dharma transmission refers to a way of awakening to one’s true nature of being that is passed on in an unbroken line of teachers and disciples going back many centuries. She has retired from social work and currently leads the Lincroft Zen Shangha, which she founded, in New Jersey.

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