4 thoughts on “Athens Clay Pullias Introduces Marshall Keeble, 1948 DLC Lectures

  1. This pleasant little essay is a remarkable document, both for what it says and what it does not say. At CTS we hold the first of the printed “Lipscomb Lectures” volumes (1947), but we do not hold this one, and i must look for it, that i might see it for myself. In the 1947 volume, set in type by the McQuiddys and published by Gospel Advocate, a “lecture” by MK or any mention of him is nowhere to be seen. Yet in 1948 ACP can say, “For many years we have had him here at this hour on the last day of our lectures. . . .” MK is there to raise money, of course, as ACP’s “reasons” for his appearance make clear. (Indeed, “Lectureships” are by their nature fund-raising events) We may think that at Lipscomb MK is always making a pitch for Nashville Christian Institute . . . and providing a little comic relief. At ACC in 1950 he is promoting the nascent Southwestern Christian College (MK’s lecture is in that book, and one may also find it at


    At the Harding Lectures in 1959 MK was raising money for African missions, and the auditorium was full to overflowing with white folk who were awaiting MK’s speech with great anticipation. Sadly, MK’s speech is not preserved in the 1959 “Harding College Bible Lectures,” and i see no mention of him in that book, either. Ironically, Leon Cleveland Burns (1906-1984), who published a pamphlet promoting racial segregation in 1957, presented a lecture recorded in that book.

    At Lipscomb, then, in the 1940s, the testimony of ACP suggests that MK has his own (segregated) hour to perform and raise money at the close of the annual lectureship. He is not, apparently, invited to be honored with other “veteran” preachers of his generation in 1948 or 1949. This is ironically just. MK is, by every measure of accomplishment, in a class by himself — and someone of his well-advertised “humility” would seem out of place in a gathering where “humility” might be accounted least of the virtues.

    May God have mercy.


  2. The 1948 lecture book is 8.5 by 11, contains full length typed, single-spaced, manuscripts or transcriptions of the lectures. It looks like it was printed up by the students; it is not a professional job like what would roll of the presses downtown at McQuiddy.

    Keeble’s is the final speech in the book.

    If we may combine Pullias’ introduction with oral history of the as-told-to-me variety, we have Pullias introducing his “personal friend” and then the audience…presumably in Alumni Auditorium…sitting in silence awaiting the speaker to rise from his seat in the balcony, walk down the steps at the back, open the doors at the rear of the building, and walk down the long aisle to the stage and podium. Only in later years (middle 1960’s?) again, as it was told to me, were Keeble and his preacher boys “allowed” to sit on the main level.

    I ran across the photo of the honored preachers while looking for CEWD. I did not at the time pay more than passing attention to ads or schedules for the DLC lectures. They may be there in the GA, and in earlier years, to substantiate Pullias’ claim about the many appearances of MK on those lectures. But I have not looked specifically for them.

  3. The ironies multiply. By 1967, ACP will preside over the disposition of the real property and material assets of the Nashville Christian Institute, and the proceeds will accrue to David Lipscomb College. MK will be deputed to explain, one last time, the actions of his white sisters and brothers to his black sisters and brothers, who will not buy his explanation. Richard Nathaniel Hogan, moved to recall “that old racist white man C . E. W. Dorris,” will label the legal misappropriation of the assets of NCI “the grab of the century.” MK’s student Fred Gray will file one of the few claims before the law that he admits to losing.

    MK travels the entire trajectory from the end of the Southern Practical Institute to the end of the Nashville Christian Institute as the faithful servant of the Gnashville Establishment — Burton, Pullias, Goodpasture, et seq — and in the end they sell him out for their 30 pieces of silver and leave him hanging. Once he is dead, of course, they fall all over one another to offer eloquent eulogies to the dead MK and invidious comparisons to those who lacked MK’s “humility.”

    What the white folks did, of course, was all “legal,” but it conveyed a lasting lesson about white morality. For Hogan and other aging disciples of Bowser, the disposition of NCI confirmed what they had always known about white power. “Times have changed,” but white people had not changed. White people never change. They are same today as they were yesterday. It is always black folks who have to do the changing, to accommodate and propitiate white desires. Black consciousness among Churches of Christ had begun a seismic shift. White money could still command attention, but white power could no longer compel even tacit agreement or acquiescence. Many black people would not care whether white people did or did not change their attitudes or their ways. They had determined, as far as it was possible, to live without whites, to be free of them. The impossibility would result not in communication and accommodation but in resentment and frustration. This is our inheritance, to this hour.

    May God have mercy.


  4. G P Holt, grandson of Bowser, told me of being at the Lipscomb lectures some time in the late 1940’s, and being seperated from the whites by a rope dividing line. As I recall, he told me that he and some others created a minor disturbance by crossing the rope, or tearing it down.

    Some time in the late 1990’s, I met the first black student to be admitted to Lipscomp in 1965, result of Supreme Court rulings.

    It was during the same conversation that he told me of being refused the use of a baptistry in a white church in Lebanon TN, “because some of the neighbors might get upset.”

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