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Otis L. Hairston, Sr.

Gender: Male

Ethnicity: African-American

Biographical/Historical note:

The Reverend Otis L. Hairston Sr. was born on April 28, 1918, in Greensboro, North Carolina. He graduated from Dudley High School and then attended Shaw University in Raleigh, North Carolina, where he earned a bachelors degree in journalism in 1941. In 1958, he moved to Greensboro, where he succeeded his father, the Reverend J. T. Hairston, as pastor of Shiloh Baptist Church. He led the church, one of Greensboro’s oldest African American congregations, for thirty-four years.

During the civil rights movement, Reverend Hairston allowed meetings and activities to be held at the church, and participated in several efforts to desegregate public accommodations and promote social justice. Hairston and his congregation helped to construct the first non-profit housing complex, the J. T. Hairston Apartments, in Greensboro, in addition to founding a day care program and the J.T. Hairston Memorial Scholarship Fund.

Hairston was active in many community organizations and institutions, including Industries of the Blind, Greensboro Chamber of Commerce, Greensboro school board, NAACP, Greensboro Urban Ministry, and the United Way. Hairston was a charter member of the Greensboro Human Relations Commission and also served on the General Baptist State Convention, the Progressive National Baptist Convention, and the State Democratic Party. He was also a member of the Board of Trustees of Bennett College and of Shaw University, which awarded him the Honorary Doctor of Divinity degree in 1968, in addition to the Distinguished Alumni Award. Hairston’s other honors include the Peacemaker Award, the Distinguished Service Award from the North Carolina Council of Churches, and the NAACP “Man of the Year Award.” In 2001, a new middle school in southeast Greensboro was posthumously named in his honor. Reverend Hairston died on July 18, 2000 at the age of 82.

Items created by this individual or group:
Item thumbnail image Oral history interview with Otis L. Hairston Sr. by Eugene Pfaff
Date: June 1, 1979
By: Otis L. Hairston, Sr.
From: GreensboroVOICES Collection

In this transcript of a June 1, 1979, oral history interview conducted by Eugene Pfaff with Otis L. Hairston Sr., Hairston discusses his involvement in the civil rights movement in Greensboro, Nort...

Item thumbnail image Oral History Interview with Otis Hairston Sr. by William Chafe
Date: 1977
By: Otis L. Hairston, Sr.
From: William Henry Chafe Oral History Collection

This oral history interview conducted by William Chafe circa 1977 with Otis Hairston Sr. documents Hairston’s recollections of business desegregation in Greensboro, North Carolina. Of the 1960 sit-...