Reverend Samuel "Billy" Kyles | Facing History & Ourselves

Reverend Samuel "Billy" Kyles

Learn about Reverend Samuel "Billy" Kyles, founder and pastor of Monumental Baptist Church and Civil Rights activist.
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English — US


  • Social Studies
  • Human & Civil Rights

Reverend Samuel "Billy" Kyles

Reverend Samuel "Billy" Kyles

"Hold on to Your Dreams"

Reverend Samuel “Billy” Kyles served as the founder and pastor of Monumental Baptist Church from 1959 to 2014 and was very active in the Memphis Civil Rights Movement. He was on the balcony with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. when Dr. King was assassinated at the Lorraine Motel in 1968. Despite witnessing this tragic event, he challenged himself and others to hold on to their dreams. He spoke of hope, not despair. He spoke of progress, not barriers. He spoke of courage, not fear. He built bridges across communities. He asked kids to face how far we have yet to go, but to appreciate how far we have come. He challenged them to keep dreaming. Rev. Samuel “Billy” Kyles once said that “pioneers are not always around to walk the trails that they blaze.”

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