Rev John Doggett and Martin Luther King following a luncheon in connection with April 18th 1961 U.S.C. Bovard Auditorium Freedom Rally (Freedom Riders event). Rev. Doggett was Rally chairman. –Photo credit: Harry Adams.
Reverend John Dogget with wife Frances Doggett and family.
Reverend Dr. John Nelson Doggett Jr.
April 3, 1918- May 15, 2011
A Drum Major for Justice, a champion of The Freedom Rider Movement as Treasurer of The Western Christian Leadership Conference, past President of The St Louis NAACP and beloved Pastor of Union Memorial Methodist Church, Reverend Dr John Nelson Doggett Jr. passed Sunday, May 15th at Parc Provence in Creve Coeur Missouri
Pastor Emeritus of Union Memorial Methodist Church 1964-1977, Grace United Methodist Church in the early 1980s and The St Louis NAACP during the 1970s, Reverend Doggett was a living legend of St Louis Black history.
With tributes to his recent 93rd birthday on April 3, 2011, he arrived in St Louis in the summer of 1964 from Los Angeles bringing with him an exciting and deep history of religious and civic activism.
Born in 1918 in Philadelphia, his educational studies were at the historic Philadelphia area black college: Lincoln University, where he graduated in 1942 and transitioned to study theology at New York’s Union Theological Seminary.
Between 1941-1943, Reverend Doggett was a Youth Minister at Spring Lake Church, New Jersey and two churches in New York City: Church of The Master, New York City and finally Salem Methodist Church
Taking the call to ministry on the West Coast, he moved to San Francisco in 1945, where he was Chaplain at Southgate Community Church in the well known black neighborhood: Hunter’s Point. In 1947, he co founded a leading Black Methodist church in Oakland, California, Downs United Methodist Church before moving to Southern California in 1949.
During this period of 1949-53, a civic activism that would distinguish him in St Louis took root in the burgeoning Civil Rights Movement in Southern California. While Pastor of Pasadena California’s historic black Methodist church, Scott United Methodist, Reverend Doggett co presented the legendary African American singer, tenor Roland Hayes a singer who, like Paul Robeson was a strong advocate for social and civil rights for Blacks in the late 1940s-1950s.
With his first wife, Frances, Reverend Doggett worked tirelessly to outreach for Pasadena African Americans to further a movement for integration and job opportunities in the conservative, predominantly white Pasadena of the late 1940s-early 50s. Yet, it is in the late 1950s through the mid 1960s that Dr. Doggett distinguished himself in Los Angeles as a leading religious and civic leader.
Working with the Los Angeles NAACP and The Southern Christian Leadership Conference, he became the Treasurer of The Western Christian Leadership Conference in the late 1950s. In 1961, Reverend Doggett chaired two of the most important Civil Rights Movement events in Los Angeles at that time: The Freedom Rallies: April and June 1961 for the young Dr. Martin Luther King. Both rallies were fundraisers to help The Southern Christian Leadership Conference in its support of The Freedom Riders and Sit Ins of 1961-62. Reverend Doggett was very proud of his contributions to The Freedom Rider Movement, a critical first phase of the nation’s Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s.
In St Louis, Reverend Doggett was active with every aspect of St Louis civic life during the 1960s and 70s. From his active civic role as President of The St Louis NAACP to his role as Parliamentarian for The St Louis Metropolitan Clergy Coalition, he was respected for his humanitarian valor and commitment to dignity and equal rights for all St Louisans.
In addition to his leadership of the NAACP, he was also Chairman of Central Medical Center, a long time board member of The Missouri Historical Society and a devoted member of the St Louis chapter of Alpha Phi Alpha fraternity.
With his wife, the late Juanita Doggett, Reverend John and Juanita Doggett were fixtures for three decades in St Louis civic life. Juanita Doggett, the distinguished long time principal of Sherman School and known to everyone in St Louis educational and civic circles was also the most successful advocate for NAACP membership in the organization’s history in the past 20+ years.
In his spare time, Reverend Doggett had a passion for playing the saxophone and was the brother of the well known musician, Bill Doggett, the jazz organist who created the famous 1956 Rock n Roll hit, Honky Tonk.
Reverend Dr. John Doggett is survived by three sons: Kenneth Riddick, William Ballard Doggett II, John Nelson Doggett III, daughter, Lorraine Doggett Melton , grandson Deevino Williams and spouses, Haiping Tang and Curtis Melton