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by Jordan W
Max Yergan was born in Raleigh, North Carolina in 1892. He was the son of seamstress Lizzie Yergan, and the "favored" grandson of Frederick Yergan, a carpenter who had survived slavery.
In 1921, He was nominated for the role of traveling secretary of the Native branch of the Student Christian Association. The fact that he was black made the chances of winning very slim. The European leaders of the YMCA were not comfortable letting a "Negro" do that job. His activist supporters convinced the South African YMCA that he should be hired. He was, therefore making him the first African-American to do missionary work with the YMCA. And off he went to South Africa. It was his mission to establish YMCAs, and spread his thoughts on Christianity throughout Africa. In only three years, he had established 24 YMCAs after riding all around the nation on horseback.
In 1926, he was given the Harmon Award for interracial service. In 1930, He organized the first interracial national student conference. One year later, there were 40 YMCA establishments in Africa. In 1933, the NAACP awarded him with their highest honor-the Spingarn Medal.
There was a book written about him in 2006 called, Max Yergan: Race Man, Internationalist, Cold Warrior. To some people, he might be all three of those things. But to me, he's just Max Yergan: My Great-Grandfather.