Reverend Jesse McFarland

The pastor at Shiloh Baptist Church for many years before returning to his native New Castle, Rev. Jesse McFarland (1915-2003) was at the 1963 March on Washington and sat 30 feet from Dr. Martin Luth King Jr. as the civil rights leader delivered his “I Have A Dream Speech.”  In March 1965, McFarland led Erie’s two-and-one-half mile memorial march amid snow and rain to mourn the savage beating by Klansmen of Unitarian minister James Reeb in Selma.  Rev. McFarland was part of the contingent of Erie citizens who journeyed to Selma for the final culminating march from Selma to Montgomery on March 21, marching alongside Dr. King and then getting himself arrested in a peaceful demonstration in Selma.  Serving as president of the Erie NAACP for much of the turbulent era, McFarland also addressed the memorial vigil held in the days that followed the assassination of Dr. King in April 1968.

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