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Warren G. Blakney Sr.

A 50-year ministry: paving the way for civil rights — in and out of the church

Warren Blakney was born a leader.

As a 9-year old in the 1960s, Warren Blakney passed out voter registration handbills in Tuscaloosa, Ala., for civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr., the Tulsa World in Oklahoma reports.

By the time he was 13, family members saw his potential and asked him to preach for his grandfather’s congregation. And as a high schooler during the first years of integration, he formed a biracial committee to “try to get the races to face one another, to break down the walls and meet each other halfway.”

“I came along in an era when times were very, very difficult. Since I was a child I’ve been involved in civil rights. A couple of times, I almost didn’t make it,” he said.

But it’s a good thing he did.

His early exposure to preaching led him to serve Church of Christ congregations in Indiana, Tennessee, Missouri and Oregon before moving to Tulsa in 1996 to work with the North Peoria Church of Christ. 

And he’s come a long way since his first sermon.

When he was 13, he was asked to preach at a Church of Christ congregation where his grandfather attended.

“It was supposed to be 15 minutes,” he said.

“My mouth was dry. My knees were shaking, and I was so intimidated by the audience I couldn’t get any more than 4½ minutes out.

“I never believed when I delivered that first sermon that I would be preaching 50 years later.”

Since working with the church in Tulsa, Blakney’s congregation has been involved in many civil rights issues. 

The minister says serving in Tulsa “has been my greatest challenge and my greatest award” and has no immediate plans to retire. 

Read Tulsa World’s full story.

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