Gayraud Wilmore, a scholar of African American church history, was born on December 20, 1921 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. He graduated from Benjamin Franklin High School in 1937. He held degrees from Lincoln University of PA, Temple University, and Drew University. Wilmore attended Lincoln University in 1938 before being drafted into the United States Army where he served with the all-Black 92nd Infantry division. Post World War II, he continued his education at Lincoln University and graduated in 1947 with a Bachelor of Arts. He went on to complete a Bachelor of Divinity at Lincoln University in 1950 and was ordained by the Presbytery of Philadelphia at Second Presbyterian Church in West Chester in June 1950.
Wilmore was also a leader in Presbyterian Civil Rights activism. In 1953, he became the associate executive of the United Presbyterian Church in the U.S.A. Department of Social Education and Action and led social justice initiatives in this position for five years. He was named the first executive director of the United Presbyterian Church in the U.S.A.’s Commission on Religion and Race (CORAR) in 1963. Wilmore also helped found the National Conference of Black Churchmen in 1969 and was instrumental in the creation of the UPCUSA Presbyterian Committee on the Self-Development of People in 1970. He served as the executive director of CORAR until 1972. – Presbyterian Historical Society