In Memoriam: Prathia Hall

Prathia Hall


Prathia Hall was born and raised in Philadelphia, PA, where her father was a Baptist preacher. While a junior at Temple University, Hall was arrested for participating in the anti-segregation protests on Maryland’s rural Eastern Shore. She was held without bail in jail for two weeks. After graduating from Temple, Prathia joined SNCC and became one of the first women field secretaries, in Southwest Georgia. On September 6, 1962, nightriders fired into the home where Hall and other activists were staying, wounding her, Jack Chatfield, and Christopher Allen. She was shot at and jailed many times in Georgia, including in the notorious Sasser, Georgia, jail. While working for SNCC, Hall canvassed door to door to register voters. She also taught in freedom schools (educational programs to teach potential voters how to prepare for and pass the required voter registration tests). She became involved in the Albany Movement. She became known for her oratorical power, which she expressed in movement meetings and preaching. (Wikipedia) Later she worked with SNCC in Selma, AL and Atlanta, GA.

After leaving SNCC in 1966, Hall decided to pursue divinity studies and ordination, earning a Master of Divinity, Master of Theology, and Ph.D. from Princeton Theological Seminary, in New Jersey.

Hall was one of the first women ordained in the American Baptist Association. Hall joined the faculty at United Theological Seminary in Dayton, Ohio, eventually becoming dean of African American studies, and director of the school’s Harriet Miller Women’s Center. She was a visiting scholar at the Interdenominational Theological Center in Atlanta. She later joined the faculty at the Boston University School of Theology, holding the Martin Luther King Chair in Social Ethics.

Hall was well known for being a compelling speaker and preacher. In 1997, Ebony magazine named Hall as number one on their list of “Top 15 Greatest Black Women Preachers”. She remained active until her death August 12, 2002 in Boston after a long battle with cancer, at the age of 62.

Prathia Hall