Kilgore, Jr. (Thomas) papers Edit


Finding Aid Author
Rebecca Hirsch and Sarah Guidas
Finding Aid Date
2011 January
Description Rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
The processing of this collection and the creation of this finding aid was funded by the generous support of the National Historic Publications and Records Commission.


  • 1900 – 2000 (Creation)
  • 1962 – 1998 (Creation)


  • 12 Linear Feet (Whole)
    10 banker's boxes

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  • Conditions Governing Use

    All requests for permission to publish or quote from manuscripts must be submitted in writing to the Manuscripts Librarian. Permission for publication is given on behalf of Special Collections as the owner of the physical items and is not intended to include or imply permission of the copyright holder, which must also be obtained.

  • Acquisition

    Gift of Jini Kilgore Cockroft, 2010.

  • Conditions Governing Access

    COLLECTION STORED OFF-SITE. Advance notice required for access.

  • Preferred Citation

    [Box/folder# or item name], Thomas Kilgore papers, Collection no. 0381, Regional History Collection, Special Collections, USC Libraries, University of Southern California

  • Abstract

    The collection consists of manuscripts, drafts of sermons, church and personal correspondence and photographs of Dr. Thomas Kilgore, pastor of the Second Baptist Church of Los Angeles from 1963-1985 and a noted civil rights and civic leader.

  • Organization

    The Thomas Kilgore, Jr. papers are organized into eight series: Series 1: Pastoral Duties; Series 2: Correspondence; Series 3: Celebrations; Series 4: Addresses, Workshops, Publications, and Lectures; Series 5: Baptist Organizations; Series 6: Civil Rights Movement; Series 7: Ephemera, Photographs & Clippings; Series 8: Plaques, Awards & Citations.

  • Scope and Content

    This collection contains the papers of Dr. Thomas Kilgore, Jr. These papers include his correspondence, manuscript and typescript drafts of his sermons, awards and citations he received, drafts of his speeches and lectures, outlines of workshops in which Kilgore participated, photographs, printed ephemera and two scrapbooks. Also included in this collection is a small amount of material documenting Kilgore's involvement with the civil rights movement, including the program from Martin Luther King, Jr.'s funeral and two planning documents for the 1963 march on Washington, D.C.

  • Biographical Note

    Dr. Thomas Kilgore, Jr. was born February 20, 1913 in Woodruff, South Carolina to Thomas and Eugenia Kilgore. He graduated from Morehouse College in Atlanta in 1935, did some graduate work at Howard University's School of Religion in 1944 and 1945, and received a Master's of Divinity degree from the Union Theological Seminary in New York in 1957. He held pastorates in North Carolina from 1936 to 1947 and at the Friendship Baptist Church in Harlem from 1947 to 1963, where he rose to prominence in the civil rights movement.

    Kilgore began his efforts for equality in the 1940's registering voters and organizing tobacco workers in North and South Carolina. In Harlem, he worked to end segregation in the schools and in housing. In the 1950's and 1960's, he worked closely with the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and played a significant role in his Southern Christian Leadership Conference in the South and on both coasts. He was a primary organizer of the Prayer Pilgrimage for Freedom to Washington in 1957 and of the civil rights March on Washington of 1963.

    In 1963, Kilgore moved to Los Angeles to become the pastor at the Second Baptist Church. He was the first African-American president of the American Baptist Convention (1969-1970) and also served two terms as the president of the Progressive National Baptist Convention (1976-1978). Locally, Kilgore served as a special advisor on community affairs to the University of Southern California president, spent many years on Los Angeles's Community Redevelopment Agency, and worked toward ecumenism and, particularly after the 1992 riots, for dialogue across racial lines.

    Kilgore retired in 1985 and passed away in 1998. He married his wife, Jeannetta, in 1936, and they had two daughters, Lynn Elda and Jini Medina.

  • Separated Materials

    Thomas Kilgore, Jr.'s memoir, A Servant's Journey: The Life and Work of Thomas Kilgore (Judson Press, 1998), was removed from this collection and cataloged into USC's Special Collections book holdings.