Honoring the life of a Man that brought 40,000 people to Christ

Marshall Keeble…He also helped establish 250 congregations in his lifetime…

He was born on December 7, 1878 in Murfreesboro, Tennessee, the son of former slaves. Many of my family members knew him & remembered him fondly. Truly an ambassador of Christ…




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My grandmother on my father’s side was a devoted Church of Christ in Nashville.

I only saw her and talked to her twice. The first time I learned what racism was when I was around 4 yrs old and my father put me on the phone with her. My father had left home when he was 15 after his father died and only saw his mom on brief visits every few years. He had moved to Los Angeles where I was born.

My mom had left Wisconsin and moved to Hollywood after a year of college. There she met my father.

So when I was 4 yrs old my father put Grandmother on a pay phone with me. I think he was wishing her happy birthday. She had never talked to me on the phone before and she tells me, “Your Gran Daddy refused to shake hands with Booker T. Washington.” As a 4 yr old I knew that name because I had memorized the Compton Encyclopedia. I didn’t understand why she was so proud of this she would tell me as she had. As I handed the phone back to my father I said, “She sounds like a Duck.”

Then she said, “I used to have to chase the darkies out of the Chicken coup with a broom.”

My mother told me that once my Grandmother had asked her what denomination she belonged to and my mother told her she was a Lutheran, Grandmother said to her “You’ll learn!” This was the first time my mom met her husbands mother. She was extremely dogmatic and scarily pious. She had further warned my mother about the evils of playing instruments in church during the singing of hymns.

Later I had Confirmation as a Lutheran and the Lutheran services were strict and full of pomp and formal ceremony, they included many hymns accompanied by Organ music which I thought was inspiring. Years later I realized that the Black Gospel Music often included musical Instruments in Black congregations and my Grandmother must have associated Black Gospel Music as an impurity.

I wonder how Marshall Keeble felt about Musical Instruments accompanying hymns? I can guess he had faced a lot of Racism from a lot of people thinking they were being ultra pious.

The Church of Christ has, like other religions, both good & bad people in it, especially in the past…

The Hatfield’s & McCoy’s of the feud fame I believe were members of the Church & attended the same services. Devil Anse didn’t during the civil war or during the feud. After the end of the feud, Anse repented & became a Christian.
A lot of the reasons for the feud was unwillingness to forgive or abide by the teachings of the Church. All religions have good & bad actors.

My father, A Church of Christ preacher for about fifty years knew Marshall along with many members of my family. At one congregation my father preached at we was the only white people in that congregation. Much of the Church embraced all races, but, like many other religions, the region had a lot to do with the attitudes of the local people.

Brother Keeble preached at many mostly or all white congregations & would address racial issues. He had the attitude he was serving the Lord & didn’t allow anything to deter him from doing so, & though it hurt him the attitude of some, continued in his mission. As a result he had great success, & brought many thousands to the Lord.

The Church is not made up of perfect people, it’s made up of forgiven people.

There are 2 large congregations in Nashville ( I believe over 10,000 members) that are made up of people from several races. Our beliefs are very much anti-racist. I remember my father teaching the kids to sing: “Red & yellow, black & white, they are precious in His sight! Jesus loves the children of the world!” That was way back when there was still Black only & white only restrooms & water fountains…

A a for Brother Keeble’s thinking about instrument’s, I don’t think they ever had anything to do with racism, perhaps in your grandmother’s mind…I never heard of that as an issue in that way before…also, to be pious means to be Christlike, not scary.

Thanks for that reply. Good to hear.

When I was saying “Scarily Pious” I was referring to my Grandmother’s apparent strong religious involvement which seemed in direct contradiction with what she would say and how I as a child interpreted it. My father was religious but independent and quiet about religion. Of course this was a long time ago and she had lost her husband and had 6 children and was very poor. She did own a little house in Nashville which I visited a couple times. it could be seen as hypocritical or just that she was a product of the time and locale.

She was involved with activities in the congregation of :
Batsell Barrett Baxter - Wikipedia

My Grandmother, Aunt and Batsell Barrett Baxter (unless I have it wrong and this was his father Bartsell Baxter)


Baxter was a good man & was not a racist, I assure you. If she did anything wrong it’s on her. Baxter posed in a photo with someone doesn’t mean he supported any view like that. I doubt he knew if she thought like that.

Of course it’s not a reflection of him. Also, my Grandmother probably changed since I formed that initial impression at 4 yrs old. It’s just that memory of that first time talking to my Grandmother and over the years corrected that initial impression of Church of Christ.

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