Hairston, Otis L.


"The Reverend Otis L. Hairston Sr. was born on April 28, 1918, in Greensboro, North Carolina. He graduated from Dudley High School and then attended Shaw University in Raleigh, N.C., where he earned a bachelors degree in journalism in 1941. In 1958, he moved to Greensboro, where he succeeded his father, the Reverend J. T. Hairston, as pastor of historic African American Shiloh Baptist Church. He led the church, one of Greensboro's oldest African American congregations, for thirty-four years. Under his leadership, the church developed programs and ministries that served the congregation and the community as well. Reverend Hairston allowed civil rights meetings and activities to be held at the church when other pastors were hesitant to do so. In alliance with the federal government, Hairston and his congregation helped to construct the first non-profit housing complex, the J. T. Hairston Apartments, in Greensboro. Through his efforts, Hairston helped to start an active day care program and to establish the J.T. Hairston Memorial Scholarship Fund. Hairston was also instrumental in rallying members of the Greensboro community to take part in the burgeoning civil rights movement. He led several marches and peaceful demonstrations in 1963 against segregated businesses in downtown Greensboro in which hundreds of arrests were made, including Hairston's own son, Otis Hairston Jr. Hairston's devotion to the community-at-large was seen in the various organizations and institutions with which he was involved: Industries of the Blind, Greensboro Chamber of Commerce, Greensboro school board, Greensboro Urban Ministry, and the United Way. Hairston was a charter member of the Greensboro Human Relations Commission and also served on the General Baptist State Convention, the Progressive National Baptist Convention, and the State Democratic Party. Hairston was also on the Board of Trustees of Bennett College and Shaw University, which awarded him the Honorary Doctor of Divinity degree in 1968, in addition to the Distinguished Alumni Award. Hairston's other honors include the Peacemaker Award, the Distinguished Service Award from the North Carolina Council of Churches, and the NAACP "an of the Year Award." In 2001, a new middle school in southeast Greensboro was posthumously named in his honor. Reverend Hairston died on July 18, 2000 at the age of 82." --From Greensboro VOICES Biography, "Hairston, Otis L., Sr.d" accessed 9 October 2008,

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