Memphian Gets Knox Bridge Named In Honor
A Memphian has a bridge in Knox County named in his honor.
State legislators passed a bill that changed a Knox County Route 0C899, Jackson Avenue bridge over ramp to Gay Street in Knoxville to be designated as Reverend Harold Middlebrook Way.
Rev. Dr. Harold A. Middlebrook, Sr., who recently retired as pastor of Canaan Baptist Church of Christ after more than three decades of service, was born and raised in Memphis, Tenn.; attended Morehouse College, LeMoyne-Owen College, Memphis Theological Seminary, and the University of Tennessee Knoxville. He continued his commitment to education by serving as a trustee of the former Morristown College and LeMoyne-Owen College.
Middlebrook first served as the pastor of Mr. Calvary Baptist Church in Knoxville before founding in 1980 the Canaan Baptist Church of Christ. His leadership helped form the Canaan Baptist Housing Corporation, which received a grant from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development to construct the Golden Age Retirement Village complex. He also led the congregation’s effort to form the Canaan Health Care Corporation. CHCC a Certificate of Need for the establishment of the Holston Healthcare Center.
Dr. Middlebrook continued to demonstrate remarkable leadership during his four terms as Vice President and three terms as President of the Knoxville Interdenominational Christian Ministerial Alliance; President of the Tennessee Baptist Missionary and Educational Convention; two terms as moderator of the Knoxville District Baptist Missionary and Educational Association, Inc.; Assistant General Secretary of the National Baptist Convention, USA and is the founder and Chairman Emeritus of the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Commemoration Commission of Greater Knoxville, Inc., and the former chairman of the Association of Christian Denominational Leaders, Inc.
The Canaan congregation described Middlebrook as a man who “always puts others first” and “has always fought for the rights of people everywhere, no matter their race, creed, or color.” In addition to his religious leadership, Dr. Middlebrook is known as a courageous civil rights leader. He was involved in the Committee On Appeal for Human Rights and the formation of the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee, as well as being a Southern Christian leadership Conference field worker, and a participant in civil rights sit-in protests.
Middlebrook participated in the campaign of Archie Walter Willis, Jr., the first African American to run for mayor of Memphis and, was involved in the voter registration campaigns of the Bluff City Council of Civic Clubs and the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. He fought tirelessly for civil rights across the nation, including at Birmingham, Gadsden, Dothan, Tuscaloosa, and Selma Ala.; Danville, Virginia; St. Augustine, Fl.; Memphis, Tenn.; and Tunica and Grenada, Miss.
He continued to be an involved community leader concerned with the American worker when he served as an organizer for the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees and a special representative for the Amalgamated Clothing and Textile Workers Union.
Middlebrook was also involved, along with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., in the Community On the Move of Equality and the sanitation worker strike in Memphis, and was at the Lorraine Hotel when King was assassinated.
His efforts have rendered several achievements, including the “Whitney M. Young, Jr., Lifetime
Achievement Award” presented by the Knoxville Area Urban League and the “Nation Builder’s
Award” presented by the National Black Caucus of State Legislators.
He is a devoted family man, with Middlebrook and his wife Betty having three children, along with grandchildren, and great grandchildren.