The Southern Baptist Convention will be under the leadership of its first African-American president. The country’s largest Protestant denomination is hoping to diminish its troubling racist past.
The Reverend Fred Luter wiped away tears as he was given a long and loud ovation at the New Orleans meeting. Luter is becoming president of the 167-year-old group that formed in support of slavery and became a leading proponent of segregation. It now claims 16 million members, about 20 percent of which are minorities.
Luter, a New Orleans native, says he hopes his appointment will make race a side issue while membership increases. Luter officially takes over when the convention ends Wednesday night.