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When E. E. Cleveland Met Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

In this unfortunately low quality recording, E. E. Cleveland tells of his first encounter with Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and Seventh-Day Adventist participation in the Civil Rights movement.

This was apparently filmed at the Capitol City Seventh-day Adventist church in 2007. The anecdote Cleveland relates appears in Ciro Sepulveda‘s Adventist history site and is reprinted below:

The squad cars drove up to the tent on the corner of Smythe and High Street, across the street from the Tijuana Night Club, in Montgomery, Alabama, the summer of 1954. The officers walked through the aisles of the tent as a thousand or so African-Americans listened to evangelist Edward Earl Cleveland. Initially few noticed. In time, however, the audience became distracted and Cleveland calmly stated, “No need to worry; let the officers do their jobs.” Someone reported that Adventists were violating Alabama ordinances by allowing Whites and Blacks to commingle at a public meeting. Cleveland had publicly insisted such ordinances need not be obeyed since all are children of one God.


The tent in the infested district of Montgomery received two more visitors that summer when the Reverend Ralph Abernathy, pastor of the largest Black congregation in the city and the Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr., canceled their vacations because the Adventists were stealing their sheep. A seamstress named Rosa Parks from the local Lutheran congregation, along with members from other denominations, attended the meetings regularly. Abernathy and King came to investigate. King told Cleveland: “I was informed that a Black Billy Graham was preaching the Gospel, but all I heard was ‘the Law, the Law and the Law.’”


Cleveland, unimpressed by theological discourse, responded; “You must have arrived late because all I preached was ‘the Lord, the Lord, and the Lord.’”

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