Dr. Theodore Judson (“T.J.”) Jemison, pastor emeritus of Mount Zion First Baptist Church, Baton Rouge, former president of the National Baptist Convention, U.S.A., Incorporated and builder of the Baptist World Center in Nashville, Tennessee went home to be with the Lord on Friday, November 15, 2013. He was 95.
Dr. Jemison was born in 1918 in Selma, Alabama. He came from a family of prominent ministers and churchgoing women. He earned his bachelor’s degree at Alabama State University, where he joined Alpha Phi Alpha. He went on to earn degrees at Virginia Union and did graduate study at New York University.
Dr. Jemison served as pastor of Mount Zion First for more than 50 years, being called there in 1949. He built an impressive facility that houses the church to this day. In addition, he was active in the African-American Civil Rights movement in the 1950s and organized a boycott of Baton Rouge buses by black riders who were at the time forbidden by city ordinance from sitting in front of white people. The eight day protest did not end segregation but did force the city to make concessions.
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. noted that he spoke with Dr. Jemison prior to the year-long Montgomery bus boycott in 1955, in his book, “Stride Toward Freedom: The Montgomery Story.”
In 2007, Mt. Zion First Baptist Church instituted the annual T.J. Jemison Race Relations Award in his honor.
Homegoing Services are pending.