Collections

Skip navigation
Media File
Alexander Willbanks
Date: American, 1871-after 1920
place of birth:United States, Mississippi
active in:United States, District of Columbia, Washington
Biography: The popular and charismatic evangelical preacher Rev. Alexander Willbanks was born in Mississippi, and preached in that state as well as Texas before finishing his theological degree at Howard University. Based in Washington, D.C., Willbanks organized a twenty-one day campaign in Indianapolis that began on July 22, 1919; this mass baptism at Fall Creek occurred at the end of the second week. Willbanks was one of several preachers nicknamed "Black Billy Sunday" after the preacher Billy Sunday, who was known for his dramatic sermons. Like many other successful evangelists of the period, Willbanks was a Southern preacher who traveled across the country, converting thousands of people, usually migrants, with a unique blend of showmanship, emotional preaching, and a focus on individual salvation.