Pastor Milton M. Merriweather
By Cora Jackson-FossettSentinel Religion Editor
Rev. Milton Merriweather, a legendary civil rights activist and pastor in South Los Angeles, passed away on September 5, leaving many to remember his courageous acts for the betterment of the community.
The founder of New Mount Pleasant Missionary Baptist Church in Inglewood, Pastor Merriweather led many campaigns against police brutality in the 1970s and was highly instrumental in the abolishment of the chokehold on suspected offenders. In addition, he often captured news headlines for his insistence on accountability by elected officials.
His activism drew national attention resulting in an audience with then-President Jimmy Carter in Washington, DC. Pastor Merriweather went on to become an advocate for several politicians as well as serve on several local, state and national Advisory Boards.
Pastor Merriweather's homegoing service was held September 10, at New Mount Pleasant. Rev. Frank Jackson served as officiant and Rev. Larry Thomas delivered the eulogy. Also participating were Rev. Edward Burnett, Rev. Albert Harris, Rev. Bryan Jones, Sis. Brenda Cohen, Sis. Phyllis Cunningham, Sis. Sadie Stewart, Lisa Westbrook, Pastor Merriweather's youngest daughter; a representative from each church auxiliary, and the New Mount Pleasant Mass Choir.
A native of Kingsbury, Texas, Milton Maurice Merriweather was born August 24, 1924 to Edgar and Betty Merriweather. He was the second of three children; his brother, Otis, who preceded him in death, and sister, Eugenia, of Oakland.
His family relocated to San Antonio where Milton was educated in the local schools and enlisted in the U.S. Army before graduating high school. While in the military, he received promotions to Buck Sergeant, Staff Sergeant, and Platoon Leader. He also witnessed the tremendous racial discrimination experienced by men of color, which likely influenced his activism in later years.
In 1942, Milton married his wife, Gloria, and they became the proud parents of four children. Seven years later, he was licensed to preach by Pastor G. C. Coleman of New Mount Pleasant Missionary Baptist Church in San Antonio.
Moving to Los Angeles in 1952, Rev. Merriweather united with Tabernacle of Faith Baptist Church, later serving as associate minister under Pastor F. D. Farrell. While ministering at a local car wash, he received the vision of forming his own church and he organized New Mount Pleasant Missionary Baptist Church with six members in his living room.
The congregation worshipped in various buildings until moving into an abandoned Methodist church at 11400 Hoover Avenue, where he also began his famous campaigning against police brutality after seeing the harsh treatment of African Americans by law enforcement. In 1983, Pastor Merriweather and the congregation began worshipping in their current edifice at 434 South Grevillea in Inglewood, which was purchased from a White parishioner group, Unified Baptist Church. Mount Pleasant burned its mortgage on July 17, 2005.
For the remainder of his life, Pastor Merriweather continued to preach, teach and serve the community.
Among those who will cherish Rev. Merriweather's memory are his devoted wife of 68 years, Gloria; sons, Marvin and Edgar (Michele); daughters, Alice and Lisa (Kenneth); his adopted children, Willie and Pepsi Isaac; sister, Eugenia Jackson; nine grandchildren, 12 great-grandchildren, three great-great grandchildren, daughters-in-law, Nancy and Alice; and many nieces, nephews, friends and church members.