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Kevin D. Miller T’03,’08, Executive Director of Graduate Admissions

It is difficult for me to reflect on Black history at Drew without remembering the journey of one of my fathers in the ministry, the Rev. Dr. Shellie Sampson Jr., and his impact on those of us who followed him. Pastor Sampson, a two-time Theological School alum, who later went on to earn his PhD degree, was a major influence in my life and ministry. Before his passing, he was the Pastor of Thessalonia Baptist Church (now Thessalonia Worship Center) in the Bronx. Pastor Sampson wrote one of my letters of recommendation when I submitted my application to the Theological School almost 25 years ago.

He left his career as a trained scientist and chemist to follow his calling to ordained ministry. When Dr. Sampson first attended the Theological School, things were different. Society was different. A native of Newark, New Jersey, Pastor Sampson had to take public bus transportation to the gates of Drew. He shared with me during one of our many conversations that he experienced racism just getting to the campus for classes. Madison and Newark are worlds apart. Some of the bus drivers wouldn’t let him off in front of Drew, but instead would deliberately take him beyond his stop forcing him to find his way back to campus. Apparently it was felt that people of color didn’t belong. Times have changed. Many of us do not know the names of the shoulders on which we stand. I didn’t know Pastor Sampson during those days at Drew, but I know that we are all the beneficiaries of his commitment and the commitment of others who have attended Drew. During this Black History Month, I am mindful and grateful for those who left a path for us all to follow.

DREW VOICES: BLACK HISTORY MONTH

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