C. E. McLain
Civil Rights

Rev. McClain was born in Ruston, Louisiana, as one of five children of Claude Clifford McClain and Mildred Margaret Oliver McClain. His father, one of the first five African-Americans to register to vote in Lincoln Parish in 1947, taught mathematics at Jackson High School in Jonesboro, Louisiana, before turning to the ministry in 1953. He served as pastor of Little Union Baptist Church in Shreveport from 1959 until his death in 1991. Mildred McClain, the first in her family to finish college, taught school for thirty-eight years before retiring in 1969. In the 1950s Rev. McClain's father helped in the attempt to integrate Louisiana Tech. He belonged to an organization called The Nicodemus Club that sought strategies to lay the groundwork for civil rights. In 1957, Rev. McClain's parents took the whole family to New York where the couple attended graduate school. Up there, at Cornerstone Baptist Church, young McClain heard Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. preach. A few years later his father hosted Dr. King when the civil rights leader came to Shreveport to teach non-violent tactics and to lead a march on Texas Avenue. Even then, he says, King believed he would be killed. Rev. McClain graduated from high school in 1961, then from Southern University in 1965. He returned to Ruston and was named deputy director, then director of the Community Action Agency. In 1972 he was elected to the Lincoln Parish school board as both its youngest and as its first African-American member. In the 1970s he pastored a church in Ruston and earned a master's of divinity degree from Texas Christian University. Afterward, he was called to First Shiloh Baptist Church in Houston. On November 20, 1980 Rev. McClain married Diana Walker. (They would have six children and five grandchildren.) In 1984 he became pastor of Friendship Baptist Church in Kansas City, where membership totaled more than 2,000. When his father died in 1991, Rev. McClain succeeded him as pastor of Little Union. In 2002 he completed his doctorate at Drew University in Madison, New Jersey. Rev. McClain has also written four books.