Father Nelson Pinder Endowed Scholarship Fund

Father Nelson Pinder was a civil rights icon who helped integrate Orlando. 

An American civil rights activist that served the Orlando Community for more than 50 years.

The Reverend Canon Dr. Nelson Wardell Pinder has stated that he devoted his life to a ministry of trying to bring people together to do the right things for the community.

 He was born in Miami, Florida, and educated in Florida schools up to receiving degrees at Bethune Cookman College (now University) in 1956 and Florida A & M University. He is a Korean War veteran and a proud graduate of Nashotah House Seminary near Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

As a B-CU Alum, Father Pinder was a former member of the Bethune-Cookman Board of Trustees and former Fundraising Chair for the National Alumni Association.  The Pinder Family is recognized as a Bethune-Cookman Legacy Family; Father Pinder's wife of 62 years, Marian, is a 1958 graduate, Daughter Gail (deceased) graduated in 1982 followed by Nelson, Jr. in 1987.  Their granddaughter, Crystal Priester, graduated in 2010.

Father Pinder, as those who have known him a long while call him, arrived in Orlando in the summer of 1959. He stepped off the plane and inquired about local transportation and was told to call a "Colored taxi." The Orlando airport of those days is not the one many of you may have visited on your trips to Orlando and Disney World.)


God puts us where he wants and needs us to be. He has shared the story of how he wanted to go to New York City and be a community organizer. In 1959, Bishop Louttit told him he could do the same work in Orlando - and that came to pass.


Father Pinder was ordained into the diaconate in August 1959 and into the priesthood the following January at St. John the Baptist, the same church he still attends. By 1960, he was organizing and training high school students to stage sit-ins and demonstrations to integrate restaurants, lunch counters, and other public places in Orlando.


Some of you may remember and may have lived:

Black swimming pool (If you had one) - White swimming pool

White movie theaters - A Black Movie theater

Restaurants - Blacks served at the back door

White nightclubs and Black nightclubs

White churches and Black churches

 He led these young people who became known as Pinder's Kids to seek social justice nonviolently in Orlando. (Some of you may not be aware of the fact that the parents of these young people would have put their livelihoods in jeopardy if they had done this work.) He worked with elected officials and business leaders - Black and White - to help Orlando avoid the violence experienced in other communities. He was instrumental in the peaceful integration of Orange County Schools.

 All of this while ministering to a congregation that grew from a small group of 20-30 in 1959 to over 300 at the time of his retirement with a newly built sanctuary in 1993. He helped folks get jobs, got them out of trouble, married, baptized, and buried. 

Please donate online by clicking the donate button or mail checks payable to Bethune-Cookman University.

Bethune-Cookman University

Office of Institutional Development

640 Dr. Mary McLeod Bethune Boulevard

Daytona Beach, FL 32114

On memo line indicate: Father Nelson Pinder Endower Scholarship Fund

Thank you for your support!