The 76 Year Legacy of Pastor, Father, Friend, and Civil Rights Leader, Reverend A. Knighton Stanley: The Torch Has Been Passed

By Natasha Foreman Bryant

I can’t recall ever personally meeting Reverend Stanley, but I know one of his beloved daughters, Taylor Stanley. I have watched Taylor grow and blossom as a woman, student, and leader over the past few years. She served as my Fellow at Operation HOPE, and worked passionately as she juggled tasks for her Fellowship, assignments for her Master’s program at Georgia State University, and her commitments to political campaigns.

Through Taylor I connected with the man who she saw as more than just her father and dad, but as her best friend and hero. I can relate deeply with that because that’s how I always saw (and see) my dad. It was easy for me to take Taylor under my wing much like I would a little sister, so I stand committed to encouraging (and lovingly pushing) her to become the woman and leader she was born to be.

Reverend Stanley obviously was and is a strong, brave and special man, because his daughter Taylor is strong, brave, and very special. When Taylor speaks of her father her eyes light up, even when he struggled with health issues and you could see the burden on Taylor’s heart, you could still see the “light” within her and feel the love of this daddy’s girl.

Reverend Stanley is still preaching and advocating in heaven, as I’m sure he can’t shake the more than 40 years he devoted himself as a pastor of Peoples Congregational United Church of Christ. Nor can he shake the years he dedicated as a Civil Rights Leader in Washington DC. and down south in North Carolina.

Because you won’t read it in a K-12 history textbook, most people don’t know that Reverend Stanley worked at North Carolina A&T State University, and Bennett College. Most people also don’t know that he is the man behind Jesse Jackson’s rise to prominence in the 1960s, and that he served as a trusted advisor to those brave students in Greensboro, NC who were taking part in sit-ins—trying to integrate lunch counters, and regain the dignity given to all of God’s children at birth.

Most people don’t know how Reverend Stanley’s political power continued to grow as he passionately fought for the rights of those who at times felt powerless and voiceless, and how he also humbly used the pulpit to help bring about change. Most people can only recall at most two pastors involved in the Civil Rights Movement. The majority of folks may only muster up one name, and that’s Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

It is no wonder to me why Reverend Stanley’s daughter Taylor (also the granddaughter of Civil Rights Leader, Reverend Ambassador Andrew Young) is so passionate about education, underserved communities, politics and governmental policies, and civil and human rights. She has been lovingly sandwiched between two men who have served their country and communities for well over 50 years.

It’s in Taylor’s blood and DNA.

Just as it’s in her to look closely and analytically at situations and issues, and to stay on something like a dog with a bone. She got those skills and more from her mother Andrea Young, who is a lawyer, the Executive Director of the Andrew Young Foundation, and a Scholar-in-Residence at Morehouse College.

This article is not just about noting another loss or physical death. The purpose of this article is to celebrate the life and legacy of a man who served when he didn’t have to. The purpose of this article is to celebrate the legacy that he has built and left behind for his children and grandchildren to proudly continue.

Isn’t that what we all want out of life?

To leave behind a footprint, a legacy, something to be remembered by, in hopes that our accomplishments will be noticed and recognized, and our hard work continued?

Reverend Stanley you have achieved that sir, and I believe that your family will continue your legacy and make you proud!

Here and below please find a link to a captivating article by the Washington Post honoring the late, great, Reverend Stanley and his life and legacy. Please read it and share it with others.

Many folks know of King, Parks, Young, and Jackson. Some folks know of Lewis, Vivian, Abernathy, and Lowery. We need to make sure that more folks know of Reverend Stanley and others who bravely stood up and spoke out about injustice in this country, and fought for human dignity for all of God’s children. When you know about them you are better prepared for the Taylor Stanley’s who are making their way up the funnel.

Reverend Stanley thank you for your service, your leadership, your bravery and dedication, and for fathering and nurturing a legacy within your family—and within Taylor, that amazingly bold daughter of yours. I pray that over the years as you look over us and see what’s going on down here that you have more moments of smiles and laughter, than head shakes and frustration.

Thank you sir!

~ Natasha Foreman Bryant

Washington Post Article:
http://m.washingtonpost.com/local/obituaries/a-knighton-stanley-a-civil-rights-leader-and-dc-pastor-dies-at-76/2013/09/25/1ddabb36-25fc-11e3-ad0d-b7c8d2a594b9_story.html

Copyright 2013. Natasha Foreman Bryant. Some Rights Reserved.

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