Reverend Lonnie Simon

Reverend Lonnie Simon

Reverend Lonnie Simon was born in East Mulga, Alabama in 1925 and came north with his family in 1928, settling in Southwestern Pennsylvania.  After graduating from high school in 1943, Simon joined the Navy and was honorably discharged in 1946.  Simon came to Youngstown after his military service was over to work at US Steel.  It was at this time that he met the woman he would marry, the former Florence Ware.  Simon worked in the steel mill for nine years, then worked in the postal service from 1955 to 1965.

Simon’s life took a major turn in 1950, when Elizabeth Powell predicted that he would one day be a preacher.  In 1951, Simon enrolled in Youngstown College, majoring in Philosophy and Religion.  His first pastorship was at Elizabeth Baptist Church, where he was pastor from 1954 to 1959, when he resigned to attend Central Bible College in Cleveland.  While pastor at Elizabeth Baptist Church, Simon ordained Powell, the woman who had inspired him to the ministry.  Simon was called to a church in Canton in 1960 and then to New Bethel Baptist Church in Youngstown in 1962, where he preached for thirty-three years.

Reverend Simon has also practiced social activism for civil rights throughout much of his life.  He marched with Dr. Martin Luther King in Montgomery in 1965, but did not come to fully embrace activism as part of his ministry until receiving a grant to attend the Urban Training Center in Chicago for a 10-week training course in 1967.  Here, Reverend Simon came to truly understand the blight many confront daily and was resolved to take action in order to effect change.  Reverend Simon has remained committed to nonviolent protest for civil rights since this seminar, despite arrests and threats.  He has also remained committed to contributing to the civic and spiritual life of Youngstown well into his eight decades of life.

Items relating to Reverend Lonnie Simon in the Delta Heritage Project include:

Oral histories conducted with Reverend Lonnie Simon available online include:


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