Dr. Virgil A. Wood, a leading figure during the Civil Rights movement, will be the guest speaker Jan. 16 at LC’s annual Martin Luther King Jr. celebration at 6 p.m. in Snidow Chapel. Dr. Wood will speak on Martin Luther King Jr., the Organic Scholar: Engagement at the Intersection of Theory and Practice.
The service will include the Mass Choir from Jackson Street United Methodist Church in Lynchburg and “Majestic Praise,” praise dancers from Altha Grove Baptist Church in Forest, Va.
A Conversation with Living History: A Panel Dialogue Regarding the Era of Integration in Lynchburg and Perspectives of the Integration Movement is scheduled at 7 p.m. Wednesday, Jan. 18 in Memorial Ballroom, Hall Campus Center.Dr. Wood will speak on this panel along with the Hon. Elliot Schewel, former state senator; Jacqueline Early Taliaferro, former Paul Laurence Dunbar High School math teacher; Will Cardwell, founding member, Church of the Covenant, which hosted Dr. King when he was in Lynchburg; and Dr. Joseph Nelson, retired LC religious studies professor.
Ordained as a Baptist minister in his late teens, Dr. Wood served in Lynchburg during the early days of the Civil Rights movement, leading Dr. King’s work via the Lynchburg Improvement Association, a local unit of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC).
He served with Dr. King as a member of his National Executive Board of the SCLC for the last 10 years of Dr. King’s life and coordinated the state of Virginia in the historic March on Washington on April 28, 1963.
From 1963 to 1970, Dr. Wood led the Blue Hill Christian Center, of Boston’s Roxbury community, as its pastoral director, and head of the Massachusetts Unit, SCLC. In 1973, he received his doctorate in education from Harvard University. As an educator, he served as dean and director of the African American Institute and associate professor of Northeastern University at Boston. He was also a professor at Virginia Seminary in Lynchburg and a visiting lecturer and Research and Teaching Fellow at Harvard University.
Dr. Wood’s many notable accomplishments include serving as administrator for Opportunities Industrialization Centers of America, a job-training organization for disadvantaged and under-skilled Americans of all races, which he assisted in founding. He helped establish 13 OIC centers in eight southern states, and in Boston, Massachusetts.
Dr. Wood also served as a panelist and member of three White House Conferences under the Johnson, Nixon, and Carter administrations.
Among Dr. Wood’s publications are Introduction to Black Church Economic Studies, (Sparks Press: Raleigh, N. C., 1974); originator and contributing editor, The Jubilee Bible, (American Bible Society, New York,) 1999; and author of In Love We Trust: Lessons I Learned From Martin Luther King, published by Beckham House, Silver Spring, Maryland, February, 2005.
He has combined his dual career in church leadership and education with a lifelong commitment to community development as economic and spiritual transformation. A former member of the Economic Development Task Force of the National Conference of Black Mayors, he also has served his national denomination as the first chairman of its Economic Development Commission, the Progressive National Baptist Convention. He is currently working to shape functional and substantial faith-based initiatives.
Dr. Wood is pastor emeritus of the Pond Street Baptist in Providence, Rhode Island, where he served from 1983 to 2005.