Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary President Paige Patterson Remembers SWBTS’s First Black Graduate, Marvin C. Griffin

Marvin Griffin (left) and Leon Hardee became the first two African American graduates of Southwestern Seminary in 1955.  SWBTS Archives photo.

Marvin Griffin (left) and Leon Hardee became the first two African American graduates of Southwestern Seminary in 1955. SWBTS Archives photo.

Marvin C. Griffin, Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary’s first African American graduate, a longtime pastor and trailblazing civic leader, died Dec. 25 at age 90.

SWBTS President Paige Patterson remembered Griffin with mixed emotions of appreciation for the pastor’s storied career and sadness for the seminary’s segregated past.

“The home-going of pastor Marvin Griffin brings mixed emotions to Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary,” Patterson said. “On the one hand, heaven’s value continues to rise and the heavenly reunion must have been something to see. On the other hand, Brother Griffin was our oldest living African American graduate, and that is a loss for us.

“Remembering with shame when African Americans were not welcome as students at Southwestern, Brother Griffin stood as a triumph of love over prejudice,” Patterson said.

Griffin and L.F. Hardee became the first two African American graduates from Southwestern in 1955, paving the way for hundreds more in the decades to follow.

Griffin held his longest pastorate at Ebenezer Baptist Church in Austin, Texas, where he served from 1969 until 2011, when he retired from the pastorate at age 88.

In 1988, Griffin led the church to create the East Austin Economic Development Corporation to provide affordable housing, care for senior adults, a child-development center and other services in its neighborhood. In addition, Griffin expanded Ebenezer’s outreach ministry through radio and television, established a tape ministry for members incapable of attending services, and housed at Ebenezer the first “Meals on Wheels” program in East Austin.

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SOURCE: Baptist Press
Alex Sibley