Reverend Thomas Kilgore Jr. ’35 was an influential theologian and civil rights activist on both coasts, serving as pastor of New York City’s Friendship Baptist Church and Los Angeles’s Second Baptist Church, the oldest Black Baptist Church in the city. He was an organizer of the historic 1963 March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, during which fellow Morehouse alumnus Martin Luther King Jr. gave his iconic “I Have a Dream” speech. Kilgore managed the New York City office of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, the organization led by Dr. King, and helped organize what would become the Los Angeles chapter of the organization.
Kilgore served as the first Black president of the American Baptist Convention and later served as president of the two million-member Progressive National Baptist Convention. He also served as founding president of the Heart of Harlem Neighborhood Church Association, which fought segregation in New York City.