Video: Rev. Claude Black espouses doctrine of success and compassion
For nearly 50 years, Rev. Claude Black’s sage and strong voice resounded words of wisdom, resilience, and peaceful civil rights protest as the pastor of Mt. Zion Baptist Church, from 1949 to 1998. He has served as a civil rights leader, as well as a San Antonio political figure as a city councilman and as mayor pro tem.
Black was born into segregated San Antonio on Nov. 28, 1916. He fought for school integration in San Antonio, after earning a master’s degree from Andover Newton Theological School in 1943. He organized peaceful protests and marches throughout Texas, and attended the White House Conference on Civil Rights in 1966 with President Lyndon B. Johnson and the White House Conference on Aging in 1995 with President Bill Clinton. He was appointed as mayor pro tem in 1974. That same year, an arsonist burned Mt. Zion Baptist Church to the ground. The church was rebuilt in 1975.
Black died on March 13, 2009. Black has a street, a community center, and a scholarship named in his honor.
He and his wife, ZerNona, were married for 59 years before her death in 2005. Together, they had two children, Joyce and Stewart. An instructor at St. Phillip’s College, she accompanied Black in many of the marches and protests that he led.
In these videos, Black credits his parents and grandparents for instilling a love of education, describes the makings of a successful family and community life, and espouses a doctrine of success, fairness, as well as compassion.
"I think one of the most difficult struggles I’ve had is making my life meaningful. It’s very easy to settle for nothing and end up living a life that makes very little difference. I always wanted to find meaning in my life.
“I would like to be remembered as a person who found meaning in his life in some way, by giving it away. By giving his life away. And being concerned about others.”
“Terrorists are not born. They are made... I remembered as a youngster, I’d get angry about the fact that I couldn’t do this, do that, and had to go to the back door here. And that would make me angry as a teen ager. And I would sit and think about what was being done to me and why I couldn’t do this or that and then I’d begin to fantasize. Well… maybe I should blow up city hall. And you begin to think that way. How do I get rid of these limits? Who’s causing these problems for me and how do I deal with them? So what I am saying is, hope, seeing that society began to open some doors, is the only thing that changed my disposition. Terrorists are not born. They are made. And we’ve got to find out how they are being made.
“When people get to the point when they don’t love life, something is seriously wrong. And we need to address that. Terrorists are made of people who can only find meaning in death.”
“My grandmother came out of slavery at 13. She never had a formal education. But my grandmother laid a foundation in the lives of her sons and daughters that education was primary. She made that primary in my life... There was no question in my mind as to whether I would go to school."
"You need a family where education is not debatable. Parents appreciate it. They push it. They do everything they can. And education is the most critical problem that we are facing following the civil rights legislation.
"Muscles did things in the past. Now only the heads do everything. That’s where we are. If you don’t get anything in your head, you can forget about those muscles, unless you’re putting them on display. Otherwise, they have little value in the market. So education is a very critical thing. And we are not addressing that as a family issue. We are addressing it as a school issue. And you cannot isolate the school from the family. You can’t separate these two. You’ve got to get the whole thing involved."