Many will remember Billy Graham for breaking down racial barriers

Many will remember Billy Graham for breaking down racial barriers

CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) - The stellar paths two American icons crossed long enough make a Kodak moment. Billy Graham and Martin Luther King Jr. briefly appeared together during America's civil rights movement.

On the day we remember one of Charlotte's favorite sons, accolades have praised his ability of being inclusive.

Former CMS board chair and AME Zion Bishop George Battle, an African American, has served on the board of the Billy Graham Evangelist Association board for more than 20 years. He now recalls how the need for inclusion was much of Graham's mantra.

"He was a pastor to all And so you know it's just exciting just to watch him float through this society. He was inclusive and he shared with me one of the great tragedies of his life is that he did not make the board more inclusive," Battle told WBTV

At a time when the wrath of Jim Crow ruled the south, Reverend Graham's sister Jean Graham Ford says her brother fought segregation.

"One of his crusades way back in the early 50's where he himself left the platform and went down and took the dividing ropes away so blacks and whites could be together," Graham Ford said.

Those who have studied the famous pastor like former Charlotte Observer writer Ken Garfield says how he handled race and religion will be examined as part of his legacy.

"The historians and the scholars will say that he came early to embracing integration at his crusades," Garfield said.

Newsreel footage dating back to the 1950's revealed that Graham preached to integrated crowds in New York City.

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