Rev. Henry Blaze, III
Rev. Henry Blaze, III moved to Tennessee from his native Houston in 1990 to attend Vanderbilt Divinity School. He held leadership roles at American Baptist College, working alongside the Civil Rights champion Rev. Bernard Lafayette. Rev. Blaze then succeeded Rev. Lafayette in the pulpit of Nashville’s historic Progressive Baptist Church. Rev. Blaze and his wife, Cynthia, worked tirelessly so that Progressive might reflect Rev. Martin Luther King’s vision of “the beloved community,” inclusive of people of all backgrounds, from the well off to the left out. Rev. Blaze is a persistent, consistent voice for social justice. In 2005-2006, Rev. Blaze co-chaired the Coalition to Save Lives, a statewide effort to prevent or mitigate the mass disenrollment of 300,000 vulnerable Tennesseans from TennCare. In 2009-2010, when Metro General Hospital was threatened with closure, Rev. Blaze convened white and African-American clergy to undertake a successful public education campaign about the importance of the hospital for disadvantaged Nashvillians and as the primary teaching facility for Meharry Medical College. Those efforts helped gain support of the Metro Council and the Mayor’s Office for full funding for the hospital. Rev. Blaze does not promote himself, but he is always listening for the voices of those the rest of us too often fail to hear.