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August 2013: Back to LA - Billy Graham's 1963 Southern California Crusade

Fifty years ago in August 1963, Billy Graham returned to Los Angeles for his Southern California Crusade. His previous evangelistic outing there in 1949 became his first great crusade and launched him into national recognition. (In between he had founded the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, held numerous crusades around the US, held his first international crusade in London, toured and held rallies and crusades in Australia, other European, South American, Caribbean, Asian and African countries, and held his groundbreaking crusade in New York City in 1957.) He held his 1949 campaign in a tent in downtown Los Angeles, but this time the crowds came to the Memorial Coliseum, the nation's largest stadium. The final service brought 134,254 souls inside the stadium while more gathered outside. The featured items from the Archives' collections revisit this great event half a century ago.

Above (top) is a postcard for pastors or a delegation chairman to report on statistics related to their group, offer comments and suggestions and conversion accounts. The photograph shows the full Coliseum with the platform from which Graham spoke at the far end of the field.

Below is sample letterhead depicting the city skyline, followed by a promotional pamphlet (bottom) for the television broadcasts from the crusade that commenced the day after the crusade concluded.

Also available is a 43-minute audio recording from Billy Graham's press conference on August 13th, two days before the crusade began. Graham talked not only about the upcoming crusade and its purpose, but his first Los Angeles crusade in 1949 which brought him to national attention, and the long-term impact of crusade evangelism. He answered questions on the Civil Rights movement, the Supreme Court ruling on prayer in public schools, Billy James Hargis, ideological competition between America and Communist nations, the family, anti-intellectualism in America, and the nuclear proliferation treaty. He concludes with appreciation for the press and an appeal to those present to attend the crusade. (A partial transcript of the even is available in Collection 24, box 4, folder 11.) The recording begins and ends with ambient press room noise.

Listen to several sermons from the crusade at the BGEA audio archives web site.

These items come from the Archives' Collection 16 - BGEA Crusade Procedure Books, Collection 17 - BGEA Crusade Activities, and Collection 24 - BGEA Records of News Conferences.

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Last Revised: 8/01/13
Expiration: indefinite

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