T.Y. Rogers, 1935-1971

T.Y. Rogers 001.jpg


T.Y. Rogers, 1935-1971


Civil rights movements
Race relations
Civic leaders


Born in 1935 in Sumter County, Alabama, Theophilus Yelverton Rogers, Jr., better known as T.Y. Rogers, Jr., came to Tuscaloosa in 1964, and he is credited with providing key leadership for the civil rights movement in Tuscaloosa.

Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr., to whom Reverend Rogers had served as an assistant pastor at the Dexter Avenue Baptist Church in Montgomery, recommended Rogers to the First African Baptist Church as pastor in late 1963. Rogers started work with the church in January 1964 and went on to lead Tuscaloosa in the fight for dissolution of racial inequality. Rogers strictly adhered to the teachings of King on achieving equality through nonviolent means.

Reverend Rogers received his undergraduate degree from Alabama State College in Montgomery, and his divinity degree from Crozer Theological Seminary in Pennsylvania with the encouragement of King and where he was a Lily Foundation Fellow.

While serving as pastor at First African Baptist, Reverend Rogers gained support from both blacks and whites throughout the county, and with the help and support of pastors and citizens, he organized the Tuscaloosa Citizens for Action Committee in 1964. This organization served as the base for planning and directing all civil rights activities in Tuscaloosa, and later became an affiliate of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference.

Among his significant contributions, Reverend Rogers led the famous march on the Tuscaloosa County Courthouse in 1964, a time that was known as Tuscaloosa’s Freedom Summer. Police tear-gassed the church while members were preparing to march on the newly built Tuscaloosa County Courthouse downtown. About 600 people gathered at the church to prepare to march, in an effort to force the city to uphold the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which declared an end to segregated facilities. Rogers was arrested during the march.

A new march, however, was planned with protection and great success. That day Reverend Rogers’ speech on the courthouse steps had great impact, and the next day all signs in the courthouse designating separate facilities for blacks and whites were taken down. The records show this day as the ‘death of black water and white water’ in Tuscaloosa County.

Rogers remained pastor of First African Baptist Church until March 26, 1971, when his life was cut short by a tragic car accident. In 1985, part of 27th avenue, the street on which the First African Baptist Church, sits was renamed for T. Y. Rogers.

Active on many fronts, Reverend Rogers served in key leadership roles during his career, among which included: director of affiliates and chapters for the SCLC, president of the Confederation of Alabama’s Political Organizations, NAACP, and contributing editor to the Baptist Foreign Mission Outlook. Honored on numerous occasions for his courageous leadership efforts, Reverend Rogers was elected as an outstanding young man of America by the Jaycees in 1967, and was honored by the SCLC, YMCA, and other church affiliated organizations. In 2005, he was inducted posthumously into the Tuscaloosa County Civic Hall of Fame.

Material from the Chamber of Commerce of West Alabama was used in this description. Additional information can be found at :


Tuscaloosa News Archive
Chamber of Commerce of West Alabama


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Tuscaloosa (AL)

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