Billy Graham held crusades in London in 1954, 1955, 1966 and 1989. I believe this postcard-size handout promoting his daily newspaper column was tied to his week-long 1955 appearance at Wembley Stadium.
“Billy Graham may have paved the way for rock concerts at Ericsson [now Bank of America] Stadium.
“After dismantling equipment for Graham’s Carolinas crusade, officials found the field in good condition, alleviating a major concern about holding nonfootball events at the stadium….
“For organizers, the extra time and money it took to convert Ericsson was well worth it….In three offerings the crusade brought in more than $800,000, and 305,400 people attended the four-day crusade.”
— From “Stadium held up well under crusade” by Ky Henderson in the Charlotte Observer (Oct. 1, 1996)
On this day in 1971: H.R. “Bob” Haldeman, chief of staff for President Nixon (referred to as “the P”), writes in his diary about evangelist Billy Graham:
“This afternoon the P got into a little harangue on IRS investigations, saying that he had been told by Billy Graham that the IRS is currently investigating him. . . . The P wants now to be sure that we get the names of the big Democratic contributors and get them investigated. Also the Democratic celebrities and so forth.”
The entry is one of many that portray Graham, longtime counselor of presidents, in a more political than spiritual light. Haldeman also reports Graham’s being used as an emissary to potential rival George Wallace and former President Lyndon Johnson and discussing with Nixon “the terrible problem arising from the total Jewish domination of the media.”
Excuse our immodesty, but surely Bob Dylan’s appearances over the years in North Carolina Miscellany played a small part in bringing him to the attention of the Swedish Academy:
If only he could’ve waited for Love Valley before going electric….
“John, in 1977, out of sheer boredom, had taken to watching preachers on TV. It was something else to do besides sleep and program dreams…. He somehow became a big fan of the Reverend Billy Graham. At first he watched only for entertainment. Then, one day, he had an epiphany — he allowed himself to be touched by the love of Jesus Christ, and it drove him to tears of joy and ecstasy. He drew a picture of a crucifix; he was born again, and the experience was such a kick he had to share it with Yoko.
“John and Yoko sat in front of the TV watching Billy Graham sermons. Every other sentence out of John’s mouth was Thank you, Jesus or Thank you, Lord. Then, as quickly as Jesus came, Jesus went, and John apologized to Yoko for subjecting her to Billy Graham.”
— From “Nowhere Man: The Final Days of John Lennon” by Robert Rosen (2002)
Bob Dylan’s appreciation of Graham was considerably more thoughtful, not to mention longer lasting.
“A statue of evangelist and pastor to presidents Billy Graham is expected to be installed inside the U.S. Capitol after his death. The statue would replace that of Charles Aycock, a North Carolina governor who championed public education but was also a prominent white supremacist….
“It’s likely that few people will be offended by the honor extended to Graham since he was one of the dominant religious figures of the 20th century, said William Martin, a sociologist at Rice University and a biographer of Graham.
“Martin said he has been retained by ABC since 1995 to be available to the network on an exclusive basis at the time of Graham’s death.
“Graham [at age 96] has been mostly out of the public eye for several years.
“ ‘Outside evangelical circles, knowledge of him is waning daily,’ Martin said. ‘Ten years ago, before I retired from teaching, a minority of my students recognized his name.’ ”
— From “A statue of Billy Graham will likely replace a white supremacist’s statue in the U.S. Capitol” by in the Washington Post (Sept. 21)
The state’s other honoree in Statuary Hall, Zeb Vance, will remain in place, although his own support of white supremacy was just as unequivocal as Aycock’s — e.g., “Even the mind of a fanatic recoils in disgust and loathing from the prospect of intermingling the quick and jealous blood of the European with the putrid stream of African barbarism.”
“[Richmond editor James J.] Kilpatrick also… used a religious argument to defend the practice of segregation. For example, Dr. L. Nelson Bell, of Asheville, North Carolina, published an article, ‘Christian Race Relations Must Be Natural Not Forced,’ in an August 1955 issue of the Southern Presbyterian Journal, which outlined the biblical argument in support of segregation.
“Bell, the father-in-law of Billy Graham, insisted that ‘there is nothing Christian or natural in manufacturing situations for forced relationships.’ Rather, Bell reasoned, real acceptance of racial equality would come only from Christians first freeing themselves of prejudice and hatred. Bell’s argument supported Kilpatrick’s assertion that change would have to come from the bottom up, not the top down.”
— From Indicted South: Public Criticism, Southern Inferiority, and the Politics of Whiteness by Angie Maxwell (2014)
“When I was growing up, Billy Graham was very popular. He was the greatest preacher and evangelist of my time — that guy could save souls and did. I went to two or three of his rallies in the ’50s or ’60s. This guy was like rock ’n’ roll personified — volatile, explosive. He had the hair, the tone, the elocution — when he spoke, he brought the storm down. Clouds parted. Souls got saved, sometimes 30- or 40,000 of them.
“If you ever went to a Billy Graham rally back then, you were changed forever. There’s never been a preacher like him. He could fill football stadiums before anybody. He could fill Giants Stadium more than even the Giants football team. Seems like a long time ago. Long before Mick Jagger sang his first note or Bruce strapped on his first guitar — that’s some of the part of rock ’n’ roll that I retained. I had to. I saw Billy Graham in the flesh and heard him loud and clear.”
— From “Bob Dylan: The Uncut Interview” by Robert Love in AARP the Magazine (February/March)
In addition to the previously mentioned “Uncle Joe” Cannon (1923), Henry L. Stevens Jr. (1932) and Frank McNinch (1938), these Time magazine cover subjects are among those with various degrees of rootedness in North Carolina:
Wallace Wade, Duke football coach (1937). The cover line, noting the South’s newfound football prowess, was classic Timespeak: “Southward the course of history takes its way.”
Ava Gardner (1951).
Billy Graham (1954). Graham would repeat in 1993 (“A Christian in Winter: Billy Graham at 75”), in 1996 with son Franklin Graham (“The Prodigal Son”) and in 2007 (“The Political Confessions of Billy Graham”).
Althea Gibson, tennis player born in Silver, S.C., and reared as a teenager in Wilmington (1957).
Bowman Gray, chairman of R.J. Reynolds Tobacco (1960). Check out the illustration.
James Taylor (1971).
Sam Ervin (1973). The first of more than two dozen Watergate covers in coming months.
Jesse Helms (1981). “To the right, march!”
Stanley Pons of Valdese, supposed “cold fusion” discoverer, with colleague Martin Fleischmann (1989). “Fusion or illusion?”
Elizabeth Dole with Hillary Clinton (1996). “Who would be better First Lady?”
Michael Jordan (1998). “We may never see his likes again” — followed a year later by “The world’s biggest superstar calls it quits.”
John Edwards with John Kerry (2004).
“For a place he once called ‘the most sinful city’ he had ever visited, Washington, D.C. has lent Evangelist Billy Graham a pretty respectful ear. By last week, at the end of a nine-week prayer ‘crusade’ there, Billy had preached to audiences totaling 500,000 people. Recorded conversions: 6,244.
” ‘And they were not just the ordinary people,’ Billy said. ‘As near as I can tell, we averaged between 25 and 40 Congressmen and about five Senators a night.’
“His one disappointment in Washington was his snub by Baptist Harry Truman, who failed to answer repeated invitations to attend the meetings. (Said Billy, ‘I guess he was just too busy or something.’) As a consolation prize, he went to Manhattan for an hour-long talk with Episcopalian Douglas MacArthur. ‘He is one of the most inspiring men I ever met,’ Billy said. ‘He is deeply religious.’ ”
— From Time magazine, March 3, 1952
Google Ngram measures Billy Graham vs. Billy Sunday