Vernon Dobson

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[1]Reverend Vernon Nathaniel Dobson (October 29, 1923 – January 26, 2013)[2] was a Baptist minister and civil rights activist in Baltimore, Maryland.

Early years[edit]

Vernon Dobson, the son of Rev. Spencer Dobson and Mrs. Estelle Cook Dobson,[2] was born and raised in Baltimore, Maryland. He attended Booker T. Washington Middle School and graduated from Frederick Douglass Senior High School in 1941.[3] He attended Howard University and earned a Bachelor of Divinity degree.[2] He also studied at Harvard University. He had four brothers -- Rev. Harold Dobson, Spencer G. Dobson, Jr., Irvin Dobson, and David C. Dobson -- and one sister, Anne Dobson.[4] Rev. Vernon Dobson was married to his wife, Napoleon B. Dobson, for over 60 years. They have six children together. [5]


In 1958 Dobson was named assistant pastor of Union Baptist Church in Baltimore. He became the pastor of Union Baptist Church in 1963, and served in that role for 39 years.[6] His predecessor, Rev. Harvey Johnson, was present at the founding of the Niagara Movement and of the NAACP.[7] Dobson was twice elected the president of the Interdominational Ministerial Alliance in Baltimore.[2]

Civil Rights activism[edit]

In 1963 Dobson was one of the many community activists who attempted to integrate Gwynn Oak Amusement Park.[8] In 1998, The Baltimore Sun published for the first time the names of all the people arrested during the protests, and Dobson's name was found on the list.[9] Their demonstration against the park was organized by the Congress of Racial Equality. Dobson was a member of the self-titled "Goon Squad," a group of Baltimore-based ministers and lawyers who advocated for civil rights. In 1967 they sought the reinstatement of Joseph C. Howard Sr., a prosecutor who had exposed Baltimore's unequal treatment of rape victims based on their race.[10]

In 1968 Dobson founded the Union Baptist Church Head Start Program.[11] He was one of the founders of Baltimoreans United in Leadership Development (BUILD) in 1977.[2][12]

Reverend Dobson worked with many of the legendary civil rights activists of Baltimore, including Walter P. Carter, Parren J. Mitchell, Rev. Marion Bascom[13] of Douglass Memorial Community Church, Sampson "Sam" Green, Rev. Wendell H. Phillips of Heritage United Church of Christ,[14] Chester Wickwire, and Samuel T. Daniels, Sr. of the Prince Hall Masons.[15][16]

Dobson's brother, Rev. Harold Dobson, was the first president of Baltimore's branch of Opportunities Industrialization Center, (OIC).[17] OIC was founded in Philadelphia by Rev. Leon Sullivan.

Dobson was the co-host of Look At It This Way, a community affairs television show on WBAL-TV in Baltimore. Co-hosts included Samuel Thornton Daniels, Sr. and Homer Favor.[18]


  1. ^ Duncan, Ian. "Vernon Dobson, Civil Rights Leader". Baltimore Sun. Retrieved 13 December 2016. 
  2. ^ a b c d e "The HistoryMakers". The HistoryMakers. Retrieved February 18, 2012. 
  3. ^ Brown, Mandela. "Douglass High School". Keep On Movin' Toward Freedom: The "Free" State's Struggle With Equality. Archived from the original on October 6, 2007. Retrieved November 12, 2012. 
  4. ^ "The Rev. Harold L. Dobson Sr., 74, pastor, champion for youth". Baltimore Sun. January 10, 2000. Retrieved February 18, 2012. 
  5. ^ Duncan, Ian. "Vernon Dobson, Civil Rights Leader". Baltimore Sun. 
  6. ^ Rasmussen, Frederick N. (January 19, 2008). "Whatever Happened to...? Rev. Vernon N. Dobson". Baltimore Sun. Retrieved February 18, 2012. 
  7. ^ Ackerman, Karen L. T (2004). The African American experience : personal and social activism in the 19th and 20th centuries. Bowie, Md: Heritage Books. ISBN 978-0-7884-2510-3. 
  8. ^ "Nation: March on Gwynn Oak Park". Time. July 12, 1963. 
  9. ^ Duncan, Ian. "Vernon Dobson, Civil Rights Leader". Baltimore Sun. 
  10. ^ "The Last Tycoon: Love Him or Hate Him, Peter Angelos Holds the Key to Downtown's Future". Baltimore City Paper. Retrieved February 18, 2012. 
  11. ^ "Child Care". Retrieved February 18, 2012. 
  12. ^ "Victories & History: BUILD Baltimore". Retrieved 2012-11-12. 
  13. ^ "The HistoryMakers". The HistoryMakers. Retrieved February 18, 2012. 
  14. ^ "Heritage United Church of Christ – Home". Retrieved February 18, 2012. 
  15. ^ "Samuel T Daniels | Samuel T. Daniels, 84, leader in local civil rights struggle - Baltimore Sun". 2005-01-07. Retrieved 2012-11-12. 
  16. ^ "Congressional Record, Volume 151 Issue 26 (Tuesday, March 8, 2005)". Retrieved 2012-11-12. 
  17. ^ Mills, Barbara (2002). Got My Mind Set on Freedom: Maryland's Story of Black & White Activism, 1663-2000. Bowie, Md: Heritage Books. ISBN 978-0-7884-2268-3. 
  18. ^

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