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African American Preachers and Politics

African American Preachers and Politics: The Careys of Chicago

Dennis C. Dickerson
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    African American Preachers and Politics
    Book Description:

    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.

    eISBN: 978-1-60473-428-7
    Subjects: Sociology
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Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents (pp. vii-viii)
  3. PREFACE (pp. ix-2)
  4. INTRODUCTION (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...

  5. CHAPTER 1 Genesis in Georgia THE CAREYS IN MINISTRY AND POLITICS (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 and evangelized thousands of Georgia’s freed people, the AME Church became a major institutional presence in the state. Some of these same clergy believed that they should seek public office and use these positions to improve...

  6. CHAPTER 2 Pulpit and Politics in Chicago THE MINISTRY OF ARCHIBALD J. CAREY SR. (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 politicians, rival ministers, female leaders, and others. These various African American leaders at times espoused different racial ideologies, while at other times they shared similar views but clashed on matters of temperament and style. Despite the diversity among...

  7. CHAPTER 3 Immersed in Church and State ARCHIBALD J. CAREY SR. AND RELIGION IN THE PUBLIC SQUARE (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 a singularly important political ally. His attempts to forge these alliances and to exercise his episcopal authority pleased some members of the denomination and angered others. His old adversary, Reverdy C. Ransom, who became a...

  8. CHAPTER 4 Leadership and Lineage THE RISE OF ARCHIBALD J. CAREY JR. (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 plan strategies for electing municipal or state candidates or to arrange to have Carey speak on behalf of the GOP. Perhaps the sympathetic Carey children heard him say, “I have many duties that press me. I...


    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 institutions—that is, as part of a public theology.

    Carey believed that his legal training and practice enabled him to be engaged “vitally in the government under which I and my...

  10. [Illustrations] (pp. None)
  11. CHAPTER 6 Plant My Feet on Higher Ground ARCHIBALD J. CAREY JR. AND THE NATIONAL GOP (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 benefit the disadvantaged. To a Spiritualist pastor active in political advocacy, he said, “I am aware of the prejudice many people have against preachers in politics.” Nevertheless, he believed, clergy, “charged with the solemn responsibilities of...

  12. CHAPTER 7 Background Benefactor ARCHIBALD J. CAREY JR. AND THE CIVIL RIGHTS MOVEMENT (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 sessions, they neither eschewed nor denied the effectiveness of grassroots protest against Jim Crow violence and discrimination.

    Starting in the 1930s and 1940s, Randolph’s influence and the impact of Gandhian satyagraha (passive resistance) made disciples of a small but...

  13. EPILOGUE (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 ambition from the public good of those whom they represented. Their desire to benefit blacks was unambiguously actualized through their presence in the public square. African Americans were better off because of the Careys, but both men at times...

  14. NOTES (pp. 185-216)
  15. SELECT BIBLIOGRAPHY (pp. 217-220)
  16. INDEX (pp. 221-236)