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The Journal Gazette

Sunday, February 25, 2018 9:10 am

Billy Graham played complicated role in US race relations

JAY REEVES | Associated Press

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. – The Rev. Billy Graham had a complicated role in race relations, particularly when confronting segregation in his native South.

Graham spoke wistfully in 1965 of two grandfathers who fought for the Confederacy. But he also refused to speak to racially segregated audiences and was allied with the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.

Scholar Stephen Miller says Graham was a moderate who helped some Southern whites ease away from Jim Crow laws.

A civil rights leader from Graham's native North Carolina, the Rev. William Barber, credits Graham with helping tear down segregation.

Born in 1918, Graham grew up in a South strictly divided by race. He once said he regretted not being more active in civil rights, and he apologized for anti-Semitic remarks captured on tape in the Nixon White House.