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Rev. Dr. Cecil Wayne Cone

Garrett Biblical Institute 1961

Pastor, African Methodist Episcopal (AME) Church; Seminary Professor and Dean; College President, Edward Waters College, Jacksonville, Florida

Rev. Dr. Cecil Wayne Cone was a theologian, pastor, lecturer, author, and civil-rights activist. He became a minister at age 13 and, by the time he was 16, had been appointed to his first church. He served as a distinguished pastor at several African Methodist Episcopal (AME) churches throughout Arkansas as well as in Detroit and Jacksonville, and he ultimately moved to Atlanta and joined the ministerial staff at St. Philip AME Church in Atlanta.

Dr. Cone completed his undergraduate work at Philander Smith College, then went on to earn a master’s degree from Temple Bible Seminary, a Doctor of Divinity degree from Garrett Theological Seminary and a Doctorate of Philosophy in Systematic Theology from Emory University.

He began his career as Dean of Turner Theological Seminary (known as Interdenominational Theological Center), and Jacksonville Theological Seminary. Dr. Cone also served as the 23rd president of Edward Waters College from 1977 to 1988. While there, he earned the initial four-year accreditation of the college by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools in 1979 and the subsequent reaffirmation five years later. He also established dual degree programs with the University of Miami and Emory Riddle University and oversaw the building of the Morris-Cone Residential Complex, which bears his name along with that of Bishop Samuel Morris. Additionally, he guided the establishment of the college’s first debate team, as well as initiating membership for the college in the United Negro College Fund.

Dr. Cone was a longtime civil-rights activist, known as a strong advocate for minority rights. He was at the forefront of the Black Liberation movement as a writer and advocate. During the 1960’s, he marched with Martin Luther King Jr. in Detroit, Selma, and Montgomery. He was a key organizer and spokesman during civil-rights marches in Little Rock. In 1992, Dr. Cone was arrested, along with others in a group who delayed a Jacksonville City Council meeting to protest racism and the city’s minority set-aside plan at that time. Dr. Cone also participated in interruptions of Duval County School Board meetings in 1990 and 1991 to protest desegregation issues.

Among his many other accomplishments, Dr. Cone was a guest lecturer throughout the U.S. and in many countries abroad. He was the author of The Identity Crisis in Black Theology.

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