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African American Preachers and Politics

The Careys of Chicago

Dennis C. Dickerson

Publication Year: 2010

During most of the twentieth century, Archibald J. Carey, Sr. (1868-1931) and Archibald J. Carey, Jr. (1908-1981), father and son, exemplified a blend of ministry and politics that many African American religious leaders pursued. Their sacred and secular concerns merged in efforts to improve the spiritual and material well-being of their congregations. But as political alliances became necessary, both wrestled with moral consequences and varied outcomes. Both were ministers to Chicago's largest African Methodist Episcopal Church congregations- the senior Carey as a bishop, and the junior Carey as a pastor and an attorney. Bishop Carey associated himself mainly with Chicago mayor William Hale Thompson, a Republican, whom he presented to black voters as an ally. When the mayor appointed Carey to the city's civil service commission, Carey helped in the hiring and promotion of local blacks. But alleged impropriety for selling jobs marred the bishop's tenure. The junior Carey, also a Republican and an alderman, became head of the panel on anti-discrimination in employment for the Eisenhower administration. He aided innumerable black federal employees. Although an influential benefactor of CORE and SCLC, Carey associated with notorious FBI director J. Edgar Hoover and compromised support for Martin Luther King, Jr. Both Careys believed politics offered clergy the best opportunities to empower the black population. Their imperfect alliances and mixed results, however, proved the complexity of combining the realms of spirituality and politics.

Published by: University Press of Mississippi

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pp. ix-xi

This book reflects three major currents in the African American religious experience. The first pertains to the historic role of black clergy initiatives and programs for black advancement. These normative expectations drive most assessments of the effectiveness of black preachers and parishioners and how well they served their surrounding communities. ...

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pp. 3-14

In a 1932 memorial address about Bishop Archibald J. Carey Sr. (1868–1931), his Episcopal colleague and fellow Georgian, William A. Fountain Sr., commended the deceased prelate in the African Methodist Episcopal (AME) Church for his long career as an “evangelical preacher” and for his “unique position as a public officer who devoted himself wholeheartedly and unselfishly to the service of the public.” Carey, Fountain said, “never feared taking a stand in church or state that he believed to be for the best interest of his racial group,” adding that “the church loved him because he loved the church; the race loved him because he loved the race.” ...

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1. Genesis in Georgia: The Careys in Ministry and Politics

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pp. 15-25

The blend of ministry and politics that defined the careers of Archibald J. Carey Sr. and Archibald J. Carey Jr. derived from earlier religious and political developments in the family’s native state of Georgia. Aggressive ministers in the African Methodist Episcopal (AME) Church, especially in the late 1860s and 1870s, argued that newly freed slaves should join a black-controlled religious body. Because it recruited ...

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2. Pulpit and Politics in Chicago: The Ministry of Archibald J. Carey Sr.

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pp. 26-44

Thirty-year-old Archibald J. Carey arrived in Chicago in 1898 familiar with politics and power players in both church and state. In this dynamic Midwest metropolis, however, he learned that although clergy had long been active in public affairs, they had never possessed any “divine right” to leadership and influence among African Americans. Hence, Carey competed with a rising class of professional black politi- ...

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3. Immersed in Church and State: Archibald J. Carey Sr. and Religion in the Public Square

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pp. 45-60

Election to the episcopacy of the African Methodist Episcopal (AME) Church provided Archibald J. Carey Sr. with broader opportunities to use public theology to benefit African Americans. Successfully doing so, however, required Carey to exert as much control as possible over the pastors and parishes in his districts as well as to curry favor with white politicians by persuading them that he could serve as ...

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4. Leadership and Lineage: The Rise of Archibald J. Carey Jr.

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pp. 61-82

Archibald Carey Sr.’s children surely knew that their father was an important man. Into their large Chicago residence came a perennial parade of bishops and high church officials, who dined at Bishop Carey’s elegantly set table to settle denominational disputes and discuss church policies. Political dignitaries both black and white also knew the Carey address and made their way to 4744 South Parkway to ...

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5. Doing Public Theology: Archibald J. Carey Jr. and the Ministry of Politics

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pp. 83-113

After a decade of community and civil rights involvement, Archibald J. Carey Jr. plunged into the political arena as a candidate for public office, as a party operative, and as a federal appointee. At the same time, he maintained his ministry and served in several denominational roles. Carey saw all of these activities as intrinsic parts of a public ministry designed to lift African Americans and reform their religious ...

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6. Plant My Feet on Higher Ground: Archibald J. Carey Jr. and the National GOP

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pp. 114-161

Archibald J. Carey Jr. was undeterred by the rough-and-tumble of Chicago politics. His strong commitment to public theology and his belief in the Republican Party as an effective vehicle for advancing African American civil rights remained a primary focus in his civic career. He never wavered in his conviction that clergy should be involved in electoral politics to push policies and initiatives that would ...

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7. Background Benefactor: Archibald J. Carey Jr. and the Civil Rights Movement

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pp. 162-182

As early as the 1940s, both Archibald J. Carey Jr. and Adam Clayton Powell Jr. had supported A. Philip Randolph’s March on Washington Movement, which built on their earlier leadership of community-based protests against substandard schools in Chicago and biased hiring policies in New York City. Though Carey and Powell preferred political office and the give-and-take of city council and congressional ...

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pp. 183-184

Both Archibald J. Carey Sr. and Archibald J. Carey Jr. were heirs to a tradition of activism and officeholding among black ministers dating from Reconstruction. Headiness from the prestige and influence that came from these accomplishments may have blinded both father and son to the dangers that these involvements posed. Moreover, holding public office sometimes made it difficult to disentangle personal ...


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pp. 185-215

Select Bibliography

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pp. 217-219


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pp. 221-236

E-ISBN-13: 9781604734287
E-ISBN-10: 1604734280
Print-ISBN-13: 9781604734270
Print-ISBN-10: 1604734272

Page Count: 304
Publication Year: 2010