Harold Long

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Harold David Long (born January 8, 1929 in Stamford, Connecticut; died April 30, 2005) was pastor of First Congregational Christian Church on Center Street North between 1954 and 1967. He led the historic African-American congregation through the bulk of the Civil Rights Movement.

Long grew up in Stamford, Connecticut and graduated from Lincoln University in Pennsylvania and Yale University Divinity School. Immediately after ordination, he assumed the pastorate in Birmingham. Coming to a congregation that had just recently built a new sanctuary, Long not only tended to the day-to-day needs of First Church, but also helped to develop programming for the church's youth and eventually prepare the congregation for its role as a safe haven for protesters and activists to meet and devise strategies in efforts to dismantle racial segregation.

One member of the church, attorney (and later Birmingham City Councilman) Arthur Shores, had his house damaged by explosives twice in 1963 by anti-integration vigilantes. Shores lived not far from First Church's building, putting it possibly in risk of a similar attack. However, no incidents occurred involving the destruction of First Church's property, or any attempts made to harm Long, who himself lived at 1208 Finley Avenue North.

Long was aided in his work by numerous members of the church who held prestigious positions in Birmingham's African-American community. Quite a few of them also became officials in the regional and national bodies of the Congregational Christian Churches, which became the United Church of Christ in 1957.

In 1967, Long received a call to assume the pastorate of another UCC congregation, the Church of the Open Door in Miami, Fla. He accepted the call and left Birmingham to spend the remainder of his career in Miami. He retired in 1993 and lived 12 years in retirement.

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