The Nation’s Largest African American Video Oral History Collection Mobile search icon Mobile close search icon
Advanced Biography Search
Mobile navigation icon Close mobile navigation icon

Reverend Dr. Calvin O. Butts

Share on Social Media

Information about Reverend Dr. Calvin O. Butts

Profile image of Reverend Dr. Calvin O. Butts

Profession

Category:
ReligionMakers
Occupation(s):
Pastor

Favorites

Favorite Color:
Brown
Favorite Food:
Pork Chops
Favorite Time of Year:
Fall
Favorite Vacation Spot:
Brazil
Favorite Quote:
None

Birthplace

Born:
7/19/1949
Birth Location:
Bridgeport, Connecticut

Profession

Category:
ReligionMakers
Occupation(s):
Pastor

Favorites

Favorite Color:
Brown
Favorite Food:
Pork Chops
Favorite Time of Year:
Fall
Favorite Vacation Spot:
Brazil
Favorite Quote:
None

Birthplace

Born:
7/19/1949
Birth Location:
Bridgeport
See how Reverend Dr. Calvin O. Butts is related to other HistoryMakers

Biography

Reverend Calvin Otis Butts III was born on July 19, 1949, in Bridgeport, Connecticut; his mother worked as an administrative assistant and his father was a chef and butler. During his early childhood, Butts’s family moved to New York City, where he received his primary education; in 1967, he earned his high school diploma from Flushing High School, where he was a member of the track team and president of the senior class.

In 1972, Butts received his B.A. degree from Morehouse College; while a student, he pledged Kappa Alpha Psi fraternity and was active in civil rights. After the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr., Butts and several other Morehouse students took to the streets in anger. After graduation, Butts returned to New York where he earned his master of divinity degree in church history in 1975 from Union Theological Seminary and later his doctorate of ministry in church and public policy from Drew University. While still in graduate school, Butts was hired to work at Abyssinian Baptist Church where he began as an office assistant and worked his way up to assistant pastor, eventually being named head pastor in 1989.

While serving as pastor of one of Harlem’s largest churches, Butts has been committed to the church’s goal of creating a viable and dynamic community in central Harlem. In 1989, he established the Abyssinian Development Corporation, a non-profit community-based housing and commercial development organization; the corporation raised $2.8 million to purchase and renovate property to be used as a homeless shelter. In addition to the shelter, during Butts’s tenure as pastor a large apartment complex for senior citizens and apartments for moderate income households have been renovated in conjunction with the Partnership for New York City program.

In addition to his activities with the Abyssinian Baptist Church, Butts hosts a weekly radio show, and serves as president of the Council of Churches of New York and vice-chair of the Board of Directors of the United Way. In 1999, he was appointed president of the State University of New York College at Old Westbury. Butts also serves as chairman of the National Affiliate Development Initiative of the National Black Leadership Commission on AIDS.

See how Reverend Dr. Calvin O. Butts is related to other HistoryMakers
Loading...
Click Here To Explore The Archive Today!
  • Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Reverend Dr. Calvin O. Butts' interview
  • Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Reverend Dr. Calvin O. Butts lists his favorites
  • Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Reverend Dr. Calvin O. Butts talks about his mother
  • Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Reverend Dr. Calvin O. Butts talks about his father, Calvin Butts, Sr.
  • Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Reverend Dr. Calvin O. Butts describes his grandparents
  • Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Reverend Dr. Calvin O. Butts describes his earliest memories of growing up
  • Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Reverend Dr. Calvin O. Butts recalls family discussions as a child, pt.1
  • Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Reverend Dr. Calvin O. Butts recalls family discussions as a child, pt.2
  • Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Reverend Dr. Calvin O. Butts describes his childhood in New York's Lower East Side Lillian Wald housing projects
  • Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Reverend Dr. Calvin O. Butts describes the sights, sounds, and smells of his childhood in New York City
  • Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Reverend Dr. Calvin O. Butts talks about Ms. Jackson, an elementary school teacher
  • Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Reverend Dr. Calvin O. Butts remembers his childhood ambition of becoming the Mayor of New York City
  • Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Reverend Dr. Calvin O. Butts recalls his elementary school years
  • Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Reverend Dr. Calvin O. Butts talks about those who influenced him during his junior high years
  • Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Reverend Dr. Calvin O. Butts recalls major influences during his high school years
  • Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Reverend Dr. Calvin O. Butts describes his religious upbringing
  • Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Reverend Dr. Calvin O. Butts talks about his decision to attend Morehouse College in Atlanta, Georgia
  • Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Reverend Dr. Calvin O. Butts describes his experience at Morehouse College in Atlanta, Georgia
  • Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Reverend Dr. Calvin O. Butts remembers rioting after the assassination of Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and choosing nonviolence
  • Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Reverend Dr. Calvin O. Butts recalls the influence of Bill Strickland
  • Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Reverend Dr. Calvin O. Butts describes his decision to attend Union Theological Seminary in New York City, New York
  • Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Reverend Dr. Calvin O. Butts recalls the support of others on his decision to enter the ministry and being hired at Abyssinian Baptist Church
  • Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Reverend Dr. Calvin O. Butts describes his mentors at Union Theological Seminary as C. Eric Lincoln, Lawrence Jones, Leon Watts, and HistoryMaker James H. Cone
  • Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Reverend Dr. Calvin O. Butts talks about the history of the Abyssinian Baptist Church in New York City, New York
  • Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Reverend Dr. Calvin O. Butts describes Harlem, New York in the 1970s
  • Tape: 3 Story: 9 - Reverend Dr. Calvin O. Butts recalls his short-lived attempt to run for school board
  • Tape: 3 Story: 10 - Reverend Dr. Calvin O. Butts remembers church member Ernestine Brown and the deteriorating housing stock in Harlem
  • Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Reverend Dr. Calvin O. Butts describes the founding of the Abyssinian Development Corporation in Harlem, New York
  • Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Reverend Dr. Calvin O. Butts recalls his strained relationship with Mayor Ed Koch
  • Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Reverend Dr. Calvin O. Butts describes his relationship with HistoryMaker David Dinkins, the former Mayor of New York City
  • Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Reverend Dr. Calvin O. Butts talks about HistoryMaker David Dinkins' tenure as the Mayor of New York City
  • Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Reverend Dr. Calvin O. Butts talks about black leaders and HistoryMakers Charles Rangel and Reverend Jesse Jackson
  • Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Reverend Dr. Calvin O. Butts talks about the racially motivated police brutality cases in New York City of Abner Louima and Amadou Diallo
  • Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Reverend Dr. Calvin O. Butts talks about black leaders during the late 1980s and early 1990s
  • Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Reverend Dr. Calvin O. Butts remembers speaking out against Reverend Henry Lyons
  • Tape: 4 Story: 9 - Reverend Dr. Calvin O. Butts recalls his first sermons as pastor of the Abyssinian Baptist Church in Harlem, New York
  • Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Second slating of Reverend Dr. Calvin O. Butts' interview
  • Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Reverend Dr. Calvin O. Butts recalls how the media sensationalized his pulpit comments after the police acquittal in the Amadou Diallo case
  • Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Reverend Dr. Calvin O. Butts talks about a failed attempt to work with then-Mayor of New York, Rudy Giuliani
  • Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Reverend Dr. Calvin O. Butts talks about his political endorsements and his belief in HistoryMaker Jesse Jackson's viability as a vice presidential candidate
  • Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Reverend Dr. Calvin O. Butts continues to talk about political endorsements and why he chose to endorse Ross Perot
  • Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Reverend Dr. Calvin O. Butts shares his thoughts on the George W. Bush Administration
  • Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Reverend Dr. Calvin O. Butts talks about the reticence of large, black churches in New York City to receive Malcolm X's body after his assassination in 1965
  • Tape: 5 Story: 8 - Reverend Dr. Calvin O. Butts remembers Black Muslims in his childhood neighborhood in East Elmhurst, New York
  • Tape: 5 Story: 9 - Reverend Dr. Calvin O. Butts remembers his hesitations about joining the Nation of Islam and the ministry of HistoryMaker Minister Louis Farrakhan
  • Tape: 5 Story: 10 - Reverend Dr. Calvin O. Butts talks about how the legacy of Adam Clayton Powell, Jr. is memorialized at Abyssinian Baptist Church
  • Tape: 6 Story: 1 - Reverend Dr. Calvin O. Butts talks about Adam Clayton Powell, Jr.
  • Tape: 6 Story: 2 - Reverend Dr. Calvin O. Butts talks about the people who influenced his theology
  • Tape: 6 Story: 3 - Reverend Dr. Calvin O. Butts talks about megachurches
  • Tape: 6 Story: 4 - Reverend Dr. Calvin O. Butts describes his role as President of State University of New York College at Old Westbury
  • Tape: 6 Story: 5 - Reverend Dr. Calvin O. Butts talks about recruiting students to State University of New York College at Old Westbury
  • Tape: 6 Story: 6 - Reverend Dr. Calvin O. Butts describes his hopes and concerns for the African American community
  • Tape: 6 Story: 7 - Reverend Dr. Calvin O. Butts talks about what he would do differently
  • Tape: 6 Story: 8 - Reverend Dr. Calvin O. Butts reflects upon his legacy
  • Tape: 6 Story: 9 - Reverend Dr. Calvin O. Butts shares his future aspirations
  • Tape: 6 Story: 10 - Reverend Dr. Calvin O. Butts talks about his family
  • Tape: 6 Story: 11 - Reverend Dr. Calvin O. Butts talks about how he would like to be remembered