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Born in Alabama, Rev. Elliott moved to Louisville in the early 1950s and has been pastor of King Solomon Missionary Baptist Church since 1961. He has devoted his life to helping the poor, fighting the corrupt and teaching children that education and jobs – and not violence or gangs – are their tickets out of poverty and despair. Rev. Elliott was born Aug. 17, 1934, in Wheeler, Ala., to Charles Elliott Sr. and Gertrude Steel Elliott.
He married the late Dorothy Lee Tucker Elliott in 1952, and they lived in Decatur, Ala., for two years before moving to Louisville, where he initially worked at Kentucky Foundry, and they lived in an apartment on West Chestnut Street. In 1958, he was ordained a Deacon at Bethel Missionary Baptist Church.
Rev. Elliott says now that he knew that God wanted him to preach, but he chose to continue to serve as a deacon until the next year, when he learned, he says, that you can't run from God. Called home to Alabama by news that his mother and brother both were hospitalized with serious illnesses, Rev. Elliott said he prayed that God would intervene, and in exchange, he promised to announce his calling to preach. When he arrived at the hospital in Decatur, he found both his mother and brother were on the mend and being released to go home.
He announced his calling in December, of 1959, and preached his first sermon at Bethel Missionary Baptist. He later organized the Little Bethel Mission at 22nd and Cedar streets, before being asked to be pastor of King Solomon.
He and his wife had three children, Darlene Johnson of California, the late Torone Mumford, and Charles Elliott III, of Louisville.
Having grown up in the segregated South, Rev. Elliott said he’s always felt compelled to help people on the fringes, with the message that education and jobs, is the pathway to safety and success.
And he practiced what he preached, earning his Doctor of Divinity degree from Union Biblical Seminary in Dayton, Ohio, in 2003 -- when he was nearly 70 years old.
According to his church biography, Rev. Elliott organized the Kentucky Christian Benevolent Association in1957 to help poor people in emergency situations after learning about a 9-year-old boy who had died of starvation. In 1967, he became chair of the Kentucky Christian Leadership Conference. He was also instrumental in passing legislation recognizing Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s birthday as a holiday in Kentucky, and helped lead the Parkland Development project. And in the late 1990s, he founded the Jesus and a Job campaign, to provide work for those who have difficulty finding work, because of substance abuse struggles, or felony records.
Inducted in the Kentucky Civil Rights Hall of Fame in 2012, Rev. Elliott has worked closely with Mayor Fischer’s administration on programs to help stem violence, a challenge he says “is going to take all of us contributing and working together to do whatever we can." In 2018, he was presented with the Dr. Martin Luther King Freedom Award, and in 2020, he was the recipient of the John Asher Spirit Award, given by the Louisville Foundation, and Churchill Downs, Inc.