Notable Deaths ›

Rev. Clay Evans (1925-2019), civil rights leader & gospel legend

Rev. Clay Evans / I've Got a Testimony

Influential radio & TV preacher who supported Dr. Martin Luther King in Chicago

Rev. Clay Evans was the founder of Fellowship Missionary Baptist Church in Chicago, where for 50 years he was a leading voice in the civil rights movement, evangelical broadcasting, and American gospel music. He supported Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s work in Chicago; he cofounded Operation PUSH, one of the nation’s pioneering civil rights organizations, with Rev. Jesse Jackson, whom he ordained at Fellowship in 1968; and he released eleven albums of gospel music, including “I’ve Got a Testimony,” which was nominated for a Soul Train Music Award in 1997.

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Died: Wednesday, November 27, 2019. (Who else died on November 27?

Details of death: Died at the age of 94.

Memorial services: The Chicago Sun-Times reports Rev. Evans is scheduled to lie in state at Fellowship Missionary Baptist Church from noon to 7 p.m. Dec. 6, with a celebration of his life to follow, and that a visitation is scheduled from 9 to 10 a.m. Dec. 7, with another celebration to follow.

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What they said about him: “My heart is so very heavy. Rest in heavenly peace to our dear Rev. Clay Evans. Please pray for the Evans, Jackson and @fellowshipchi families.” --Rev. Jesse Jackson

“Over the course of his incredible, five-decade career leading the Fellowship Missionary Baptist Church, Rev. Evans tirelessly sought to uplift the lives of his parishioners and fellow residents through service and support.” --Chicago mayor Lori Lightfoot

“#RIP Rev. Clay Evans. He was a dynamic civil rights leader, preacher, and gospel music icon. Rest well Rev. Evans. Job well done.” --Judge Greg Mathis

“Reverend Clay Evans was a prophet, a priest, and a pastor to both parishioners and pastors. His death--in the same week as that of Father George Clements, who was also an inspirational icon and tireless servent--has left us all with another unimaginable loss.” --U.S. Representative Bobby L. Rush 

“Rev. Clay Evans was a religious & civil rights leader who called for the best in our humanity. When he spoke, his voice was heard in Chicago & echoed across America, & we are a better city & nation for it. My deepest condolences to his family and all those whom he loved & served.” --Former Chicago mayor Rahm Emanuel

Full obituary: Chicago Sun-Times

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Lucille Loman (1925-2015), civil rights activist

Juanita Abernathy (1931-2019), civil rights activist

Unita Blackwell (1933-2019), civil rights activist