Longtime pastor, civil rights activist Rev. Jerry Drayton dies

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Rev. Jerry Drayton (Credit: 2001, DAVID ROLFE/JOURNAL)

WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. — The Rev. Jerry Drayton wasn’t one to march in the streets, demanding civil rights for blacks.

He was the “diplomatic negotiator,” who pushed quietly yet firmly to integrate city departments and improve housing, education and employment opportunities for minorities, said several who knew him.

“He was very adept at finding where the power levers were and getting people to pull them,” said the Rev. Carlton Eversley, pastor of Dellabrook Presbyterian Church and a longtime community activist.

Drayton, 96, who led New Bethel Baptist Church for 62 years, died Tuesday night at Forsyth Medical Center, said John Lucas, a trustee at the church. Drayton officially retired in 2006, becoming pastor emeritus. The Rev. Kendall Jones is the current pastor.

Funeral arrangements are pending.

His wife, Susie Drayton, said her husband was a devout man dedicated to New Bethel and to community service. And he would work with anyone, regardless of race or denomination, who was interested in civil rights and equality, she said.

This article was written by Michael Hewlett and originally published by The Winston-Salem Journal. Click here to read the full story.

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