Date of Award

5-1-1992

Degree Type

Dissertation

University or Center

Clark Atlanta University(CAU)

Degree Name

D.A.H.

History

First Advisor

Dr. Margaret Rowley

Abstract

This study is an historical examination of the contributions made by Dr. Henry H. Proctor, the first African American pastor of the First Congregational Church in Atlanta, Georgia from 1894 to 1920. The study emphasizes Dr. Proctor's multifaceted career as pastor of First Congregational Church, as community developer, church administrator, church builder, army chaplain, civil rights activist, educator, and author of religious publications. Preliminary chapters examine Proctor's early life and development in the backwoods of Tennessee, his early education, and his conversion to the ministry. Separate chapters are devoted to his contributions, within a hostile southern society, as an instrument cultivating harmony between the races in Atlanta. Attention is given to his role as a model for Black leadership for his church and its surrounding community. The focus, however, is on his major achievements as a missionary to the South, community builder in Atlanta, and church administrator. His flexibility on racial and educational issues; impressive oratory; energetic advocacy of civil rights; discreet negotiations demeanor; and charismatic appeals to African Americans and whites; his sensitivities to the social, spiritual, and cultural needs of African Americans In Atlanta won him a considerable following within the city of Atlanta and the world as well. His successes are analyzed in relation to his impact on the Atlanta community and African Americans throughout the nation. The effects of his growing power within the Congregational Church bring to light some interesting parallels between his mission to the South and his missionary work throughout the nation. This study suggests that Proctor played a central role in sustaining the efforts of the institutional church in Atlanta. His church became the cornerstone of social and spiritual development for African Americans in Atlanta. His legacy spanned some twenty-five years and embraced a philosophy that was geared to solving the great racial problems in the South.

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