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In Memory Of Reverend Doctor Frederick George Sampson

Sen. Carl Levin

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Mr. President, today I would like to pay tribute to the achievements of a beloved religious leader, heroic civil rights advocate, inspiring preacher and dedicated father from my home State of Michigan, Reverend Doctor Frederick George Sampson.

For the past 30 years, my home town of Detroit has been able to claim Reverend Sampson as one of its own. However, his deep faith, keen intellect, and concern for others enabled him to touch the lives of countless people the world over.

Born in Port Arthur, TX, Reverend Sampson's insatiable thirst for knowledge compelled him to earn three bachelor's degrees, two master's degrees, a doctor of divinity degree from Virginia Theological Seminary as well as certificates in economics and medicine. In addition, three colleges awarded him honorary degrees.

While he was indeed a man of learning, Reverend Sampson was also a man of action who sought to integrate his education and faith into all he did. His learning and faith could be heard in his powerful sermons. Such was the influence of these sermons, that Ebony Magazine twice named Reverend Sampson as one of the Nation's ``Greatest Black Preachers in America.''

Central to all the Reverend's work was his untiring advocacy on behalf of the civil rights movement. A close aide to the Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr., Dr. Sampson helped organize the 1965 voting rights march in Montgomery, AL, and he helped write and edit many important speeches given during the early days of the civil rights movement. In addition, he was a life member of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People as well as a former President of the Detroit branch of the NAACP. Much of the success of the civil rights movement has been due to the untiring efforts by people of faith, such as Reverend Sampson, who reminded us about the dignity and worth of all people regardless of their race, creed or gender.

After serving two decades in various churches throughout the nation, Reverend Sampson came to Detroit to serve as Senior Pastor at the Tabernacle Missionary Baptist Church. During his tenure as pastor, this parish of 5,000 served as a beacon of hope to the entire community. Tabernacle Church cares for the body and mind as well as the soul, and Reverend Sampson deserves much of the credit for this. The church offers computer training, GED tutoring, runs a soup kitchen, administers a food pantry and among other things has a scholarship program in addition to its services and Bible studies.

As one who early in his life deferred a career in medicine to serve God as a preacher, Reverend Sampson was able to use his role as a minister to increase awareness about health matters. Besides speaking extensively about health and spirituality, Reverend Sampson was able to display considerable courage in his personal life when he was diagnosed with prostate cancer. After this diagnosis, Reverend Sampson and his daughter Freda sought to highlight the threat that prostate cancer poses, particularly to African American males, by teaming with the American Cancer Society and the Southern Christian Leadership Conference to raise awareness of this disease.

Reverend Sampson has been a community and spiritual leader for nearly five decades. I have been able to witness, firsthand, his passionate oratory, his love of his Lord and his commitment to helping others. Reverend Sampson touched the lives of all who met him. I know my Senate colleagues join me in commemorating the life of Reverend Doctor Frederick George Sampson, and in offering their condolences to his son Pastor Frederick Sampson III, his daughter Freda and his extended family.