Evangelist preacher Billy Graham has died at the age of 99 from natural causes. Graham served as a spiritual advisor to roughly a dozen U.S. presidents — and he made waves in the early 1950s by forcing churches to racially integrate for his services. He preached to an estimated 200 million people in 185 countries around the world during his life. Graham was a bit of an unusual religious leader. According to the NYT, "Unlike the pope or the Dalai Lama, he spoke for neither a particular church (though he was a Southern Baptist) nor a particular people." He was a close friend of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., who said of Graham, “Had it not been for the ministry of my good friend Dr. Billy Graham, my work in the Civil Rights Movement would not have been as successful as it has been.”
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Sheila Samples is an Oklahoma writer and a former civilian US Army Public Information Officer. She is a Managing Editor for OpEd News, and a regular contributor for a variety of Internet sites.