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'Powerful in every aspect:' Friends, family honor reverend remembered for civil rights activism

Posted January 5, 2019 4:06 p.m. EST
Updated January 5, 2019 6:22 p.m. EST

— Friends and family on Saturday gathered for a memorial service remembering religious leader and civil rights activist Rev. Vernon Tyson, who died last weekend at his home in Raleigh.

Tyson was called a man of prayer and a man of action.

“Just powerful in every aspect,” Rev. Bruce Stanley, President and CEO of the Methodist Home for Children, said of Tyson.

Over the years, Tyson touched many lives. He served as a minister at Methodist churches across the state, including at the Edenton Street United Methodist Church, where family and friends gathered to say their final goodbyes.

“He was a man of prayer, a great Christian, but he was a man of action, a man who recognized that the faith needed to be put into action, into place,” speaker Joe Mann said.

Some of Tyson’s historical actions were shared in “Blood Done Sign My Name.” The film and book were based on Tyson’s efforts to address racism after the murder of a young black man in Oxford.

“Vernon had a unique way to appeal to people across race, class and culture. He had a unique piety that was real and authentic,” Stanley said.

That authenticity is what colleagues say will be Tyson’s legacy. It’s the kind of fearlessness that changed lives, communities and eventually the state.

Tyson was 89 when he died. He leaves behind his wife, Martha Tyson, and three of their four children.