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

Bishop Arthur Brazier

Bishop Arthur M. Brazier, pastor of the Chicago’s Apostolic Church of God, was born in Chicago, Illinois, July 22, 1921. The son of Robert and Geneva Scott Brazier, Brazier grew up on Chicago’s South Side during the Great Depression. Brazier attended Frances E. Willard and Stephen A. Douglas elementary schools; he dropped out of Phillips High School after a year of attendance to begin working. Drafted into a segregated United States Army in 1942, Brazier became a staff sergeant serving in India and Burma; after being discharged in 1945, he met his future wife, was baptized, and joined her church in 1947.

In 1948, Brazier began a twelve year career with the United States Postal Service. During this time, Brazier studied at Moody Bible Institute and became pastor of the Universal Church of Christ in 1952. In 1960, Brazier merged his congregation with the Apostolic Church of God in Chicago’s Woodlawn community. Brazier became the spokesman for the Temporary Woodlawn Organization (TWO), organized by Nicholas Von Hoffman of Sol Alinsky’s Industrial Areas Foundation. Brazier successfully led TWO against the expansion of the University of Chicago in 1963. With Bill Berry of the Chicago Urban League, Brazier also formed the Coordinating Council of Community Organizations which fought segregation in Chicago’s public schools; he resigned in 1965, but was active with Al Raby in Dr. Martin Luther King’s visit to Chicago in 1966.

As pastor of the Apostolic Church of God, Brazier’s congregation grew from 100 members in 1960 to over 18,000. In 1976, Brazier became diocesan bishop of the 6th Episcopal District of the Pentecostal Assemblies of the World. Brazier also founded the Woodlawn Preservation and Investment Corporation, and the Fund for Community Redevelopment and Revitalization; he officially retired from the pulpit and addressed his congregation for the last time on June 1, 2008. In addition to his church activities, Brazier enjoyed a career as a teacher and lecturer and authored Black Self-Determination, Saved By Grace and Grace Alone, and From Milk to Meat. Brazier and his wife Isabelle raised four children.

Brazier passed away on October 22, 2010 at age 89.

Accession Number

A2005.003

Sex

Male

Interview Date

1/7/2005

Last Name

Brazier

Maker Category
Middle Name

Monroe

Occupation
Schools

Wendell Phillips Academy High School

Frances E. Willard Elementary School

John J. Pershing West Middle School

First Name

Arthur

Birth City, State, Country

Chicago

HM ID

BRA05

Favorite Season

Summer

State

Illinois

Favorite Vacation Destination

Paris, France

Favorite Quote

Praise The Lord.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Illinois

Birth Date

7/22/1921

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Chicago

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Linguine, Shrimp

Death Date

10/22/2010

Short Description

Pastor and bishop Bishop Arthur Brazier (1921 - 2010 ) served as diocesan bishop of the 6th Episcopal District of the Pentecostal Assemblies of the World, in addition to his work as pastor of the Chicago’s Apostolic Church of God.

Employment

Apostolic Church of God

Favorite Color

Brown

Timing Pairs
0,0:350,7:630,12:1120,20:12179,88:12511,93:13258,103:15665,155:26158,272:26668,278:30571,327:31780,343:32152,348:32710,355:36750,360:37650,371:44678,472:45290,483:62520,645:63480,724:68020,788:79840,901:87564,1056:118990,1267:119302,1419:132850,1590$0,0:28550,282:29530,297:30370,310:31140,323:40180,411:43930,457:52585,663:57274,727:83796,989:84164,997:85544,1017:91258,1091:100100,1192:113240,1356:114962,1379:120290,1448:123892,1477:126610,1495:142145,1638:147300,1703:153590,1836:161130,1931:164105,1989:184734,2258:211754,2633:212586,2642:236011,2873:242329,2970:253065,3106:262040,3220
DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Bishop Arthur Brazier's interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Bishop Arthur Brazier lists his favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Bishop Arthur Brazier describes his mother

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Bishop Arthur Brazier describes his father

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Bishop Arthur Brazier recalls his childhood church experience

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Bishop Arthur Brazier describes his earliest childhood memory

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Bishop Arthur Brazier describes his household

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Bishop Arthur Brazier describes the sights, sounds, and smells of his childhood

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Bishop Arthur Brazier remembers attending the Chicago World's Fair

Tape: 1 Story: 10 - Bishop Arthur Brazier remembers his childhood

Tape: 1 Story: 11 - Bishop Arthur Brazier recalls his school experience in Chicago, Illinois

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Bishop Arthur Brazier remembers his favorite teacher

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Bishop Arthur Brazier recalls working after dropping out of Wendell Phillips High School

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Bishop Arthur Brazier describes Chicago's Bronzeville neighborhood in the 1930s

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Bishop Arthur Brazier remembers social movements from his childhood

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Bishop Arthur Brazier recalls not attending church and perceptions of blackness overseas

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Bishop Arthur Brazier remembers his U.S. Army service during World War II

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Bishop Arthur Brazier recalls the segregation he encountered in the U.S. Army

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Bishop Arthur Brazier remembers segregation he encountered in the U.S. Army

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Bishop Arthur Brazier recalls jobs he held after his discharge from the U.S. Army

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Bishop Arthur Brazier recalls meeting his wife and returning to church

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Bishop Arthur Brazier describes becoming a pastor

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Bishop Arthur Brazier remembers his involvement with the Greater Woodlawn Ministers Alliance

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Bishop Arthur Brazier recalls learning about community organizing

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Bishop Arthur Brazier describes the Puerto Rican community's involvement in The Woodlawn Organization

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Bishop Arthur Brazier remembers lessons about power in organizing

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Bishop Arthur Brazier describes the success of The Woodlawn Organization

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Bishop Arthur Brazier recalls founding the Coordinating Committee of Community Organizations

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Bishop Arthur Brazier describes his hopes for leadership in the African American community

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Bishop Arthur Brazier describes problems in the African American community

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Bishop Arthur Brazier describes the message of the Apostolic Church of God in Chicago, Illinois

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Bishop Arthur Brazier reflects upon his ministry

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Bishop Arthur Brazier describes the impact of political organizing on church attendance

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Bishop Arthur Brazier describes his hopes and concerns for the African American community

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Bishop Arthur Brazier talks about the importance of voting

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Bishop Arthur Brazier describes programs at Chicago's Apostolic Church of God

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Bishop Arthur Brazier reflects upon his life

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Bishop Arthur Brazier reflects upon his legacy

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Bishop Arthur Brazier describes how he would like to be remembered

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Bishop Arthur Brazier talks about his family

DASession

1$1

DATape

3$4

DAStory

8$2

DATitle
Bishop Arthur Brazier remembers lessons about power in organizing
Bishop Arthur Brazier recalls founding the Coordinating Committee of Community Organizations
Transcript
And we also learned that you--there was a limitation to power, that the organizing, the most important thing that you needed to deal with was probably too much at that early organizational stage. You had to win some victories or the organization would fall apart. So we would tackle small things to try to get victories from small things to give people more courage to face the power structure which was very new in the early '60s [1960s] when African Americans are now facing the white power structure, that was something that had never been done before and the white power structure didn't exactly know how, how to deal with that so, but we were very careful as who, as to who would be our target when we dealt with the city. We never attacked ever the mayor directly. The mayor at that time was [Mayor] Richard J. Daley, who had supreme power, different than today, although the mayor today is still very powerful, but Richard J. Daley was not only the mayor of the City of Chicago [Illinois], but he was also the chairman of the Democratic Central Committee and there was tremendous amount of patronage in those days and there were only six black alderman who all in Mayor Daley's camp, we called 'em silent six because they didn't do no talking. So when we were dealing with urban renewal and the Department of [City] Planning, and the Department of Urban Renewal [Community Development Commission], we would never attack the mayor. We would always attack his underlings so that we would always be in a bargaining position with the mayor because we never attacked him personally.$But then Bill Berry, Edwin C. Berry, his name is Bill Berry who was at that time the president of the [Chicago] Urban League and I met, and we indicated we thought we ought to have a citywide organization to help combat segregated, segregation and education and Bill and I formed a group call the Coordinating Committee of Community Organizations [Chicago, Illinois], the CCCO and we organized it, I became the president of it and we had a lot of community groups all over the West Side [Chicago, Illinois] and the South Side [Chicago, Illinois]. The West Side Organization [(WSO), Chicago, Illinois], The Woodlawn Organization [(TWO), Chicago, Illinois], other churches, other smaller groups to combat school segregation; at that particular point in time Benjamin C. Willis was the general superintendent, the African American schools, the schools in the black community were, were overcrowded. Kids were on triple shifts, some schools they used the auditorium for classrooms, they had four or five classes in the school auditorium, where you can image the din that created. While white schools had empty classrooms and we began using CCCO as the new vehicle to attack school se- what we called de facto segregation as opposed to de jure, and we wanted to bus kids into these white schools where there were empty classrooms. Some schools, half of the schools the classrooms were empty. Well, obviously the white neighborhoods were opposed to that, so in order to counter that they started building prefabricated classrooms on school playgrounds, we called those Willis Wagons and we refused to accept that and they started building schools in the black community. So actually building schools to keep black people in the black community, so we had a lot of, we started making a lot of demonstrations. It was that period of time that my life was threatened and the police--I don't know by who 'cause the police they told me that my life was threatened and for a while I had had two police bodyguards that went with me everywhere. But I was still the pastor of the Apostolic Church of God [Chicago, Illinois], and I was the president of The Woodlawn Organization, and the president of the CCCO, which was really a bit too much for me. So it was then that I decided to resign from the CCCO as the president.$$Now did you have to quit the post office before this?$$Oh, I had quit the post office in 1960.$$Okay all right.$$Yeah, I had quit the post office in 1960, and a man named Al Raby [Albert Raby] who was my vice president--Al Raby became the president of the CCCO and it was under Al Raby's leadership that CCCO had its greatest impact, and it was under Al Raby that we invited [Reverend] Dr. Martin Luther King [Jr.] to come to Chicago [Illinois], and Dr. Martin Luther King came to Chicago in 1966.$$Okay so you left CCCO in 1960.$$I didn't leave it, I just left the presidency.$$Well okay.$$Presidency, but I stayed there, I stayed there yeah.$$Okay, so what year was it when you, when you resigned?$$I left the, as the president I think probably in '65 [1965].$$Okay.$$Because Al Raby was president when they invited Dr. King to come to Chicago.$$That was 1966 right (simultaneous)?$$(Simultaneous) Yes.

The Honorable William Cousins, Jr.

Like many Chicagoans, William Cousins, Jr., had his roots in the South. Cousins was born in 1927, in Swiftown, Mississippi. His family moved to Memphis, Tennessee and then to Chicago. Cousins graduated from DuSable High School on the city’s South Side in 1945. He received his B. A. degree in political science from the University of Illinois, where he graduated with honors in 1948. Cousins then went on to Harvard Law School, receiving his LL.B. in 1951.

Cousins served his country as an infantry lieutenant in the U.S. Army from 1951 to 1953. He continued as an active army reservist for twenty years and retired as a lieutenant colonel. Cousins began practicing law in 1953 as an attorney with the Chicago Title & Trust Company. From 1957 to 1961, he served as a Republican Assistant State’s Attorney. Cousins entered private practice with the law firm of Turner, Cousins, Gavin and Watt. In 1967, Cousins was elected as a “Free Democratic” alderman from Chicago’s Eighth Ward.

As an alderman, Cousins worked outside of Chicago’s powerful political machine and was reelected as an independent until 1976, when he ran for Circuit Court Judge of Cook County and won. Over the next twenty-six years, Cousins presided as a judge on the Illinois Appellate Court and the Cook County Circuit Court. He was also appointed to various positions, including chairman of the Illinois Judicial Conference and as a member of the Special Supreme Court Committee on Capital Cases. While working as a judge, Cousins also served as Chairman of the Illinois Judicial Council, Chairman of the Judicial Council of the National Bar Association and as a Board member of the National Center for State Courts.

Before election to the judiciary, Cousins dedicated his time and talents to an array of organizations and causes, including Chicago Area Planned Parenthood Association and Operation PUSH.

Cousins was a member of Kappa Alpha Psi and Sigma Pi Phi Fraternities, and Trinity United Church of Christ. He was also a member of the halls of fame of the National Bar Association, the Cook County Bar Association, and DuSable High School.

In 2005, Hiroko, Cousins’ wife for fifty-two years, made her transition to eternal life. He had four adult children: Cheryl, Noel, Yul and Gail and four grandchildren.

Cousins passed away on January 20, 2018 at age 90.

Accession Number

A2003.009

Sex

Male

Interview Date

1/16/2003

Last Name

Cousins

Maker Category
Marital Status

Married

Occupation
Schools

Greenwood Elementary School

Carter G. Woodson South Elementary School

Du Sable Leadership Academy

University of Illinois at Urbana–Champaign

Harvard Law School

First Name

William

Birth City, State, Country

Swiftown

HM ID

COU01

Favorite Season

Fall

State

Mississippi

Favorite Vacation Destination

Italy

Favorite Quote

Be prepared.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Illinois

Birth Date

10/6/1927

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Chicago

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Salmon

Death Date

1/20/2018

Short Description

Circuit court judge The Honorable William Cousins, Jr. (1927 - 2018 ) was elected as Circuit Court Judge of Cook County, and presided as a judge on the Illinois Appellate Court. He was also appointed chairman of the Illinois Judicial Conference and as a member of the Special Supreme Court Committee on Capital Cases.

Employment

Chicago Title and Trust Company

States Attorney's Office, Chicago

Turner, Cousins, Gavin and Watt, Chicago

Lafontant, Gibson, Fisher and Cousins, Chicago

City of Chicago

State of Illinois

Favorite Color

Blue

Timing Pairs
0,0:10754,191:11046,196:21649,303:23998,337:24781,349:28174,400:33220,497:33742,505:34438,515:35656,536:37135,556:38701,571:39136,577:42616,620:53678,665:61940,728:62248,733:63403,756:63942,768:64327,774:65020,785:65482,792:65790,799:70641,849:71257,858:71950,869:72412,874:77669,890:78114,896:79805,916:80784,926:81229,932:86035,982:98106,1049:101200,1081:102474,1099:102929,1105:104112,1121:104567,1127:108662,1186:114382,1215:114994,1225:116150,1244:118802,1297:119074,1302:119822,1309:121522,1350:121998,1358:124106,1396:124582,1404:130540,1464:131647,1475:132139,1483:141090,1565:141990,1575:143590,1602:145890,1629:146290,1634:146890,1641:147290,1646:148890,1672:157180,1741:161145,1783:162603,1803:163089,1810:165600,1885:165924,1890:166329,1908:168435,1932:169488,1952:174719,1986:175274,1992:178049,2018:179048,2028:184629,2112:185044,2118:186123,2140:186621,2147:188281,2164:189609,2186:191601,2223:196478,2263:196910,2270:197486,2281:199142,2306:199790,2317:211884,2449:212180,2454:213660,2481:214104,2489:214548,2497:214918,2503:218080,2519:218770,2527:221990,2566:222565,2572:223255,2579:231263,2627:234230,2667:235265,2684:237059,2724:238301,2744:238577,2749:239819,2776:240854,2791:241475,2802:245612,2813:248636,2843:252038,2873:253676,2888:254306,2894:255818,2901:263170,2938:267716,2956:271880,2971:272600,2980:275750,3062:276110,3067:277640,3091:278000,3096:278540,3103:279170,3115:280340,3129:280970,3136:281420,3143:281960,3151:282950,3161:283400,3167:283760,3172:284750,3185:285380,3193:291360,3225:294780,3298:300700,3336:301240,3349:306331,3417:311445,3510:313320,3554:313695,3560:319020,3655:319620,3665:320370,3683:326880,3723:327420,3730:335033,3784$0,0:4516,8:4999,17:5689,28:6793,45:7621,60:7966,66:11847,86:12291,91:14178,105:18285,151:20956,159:21324,168:21692,176:23716,215:24360,220:26016,241:26384,249:41364,411:41708,416:42654,424:43342,434:43772,440:46696,490:49362,541:50738,571:51856,588:52286,594:56186,616:56596,622:57744,639:60778,679:62500,697:65780,727:76365,834:77640,850:78575,863:79255,873:83080,946:88860,997:89260,1004:91980,1050:92700,1060:93500,1076:93820,1085:96380,1141:98380,1176:99180,1187:99580,1193:108900,1253:112500,1297:113580,1311:115470,1338:116100,1346:116550,1352:117546,1361:120078,1418
DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of William Cousins interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - William Cousins lists his favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - William Cousins recalls his family background

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - William Cousins remembers his parents

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - William Cousins remembers his sister's death

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - William Cousins recounts growing up in Memphis

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - William Cousins illustrates growing up under segregation

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - William Cousins recollects his jobs as a youth

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - William Cousins discusses entrepreneurship in the Chicago black community

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - William Cousins recalls his motivation to be successful

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - William Cousins recounts his high school extracurricular activities

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - William Cousins describes the University of Illinois Urbana Champaign in the late 1940s

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - William Cousins remembers influential teachers

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - William Cousins recalls student to teacher relationships at the University of Illinois

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - William Cousins remembers Buddy Young

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - William Cousins details his experiences at Harvard Law School

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - William Cousins recounts his military service in Korea

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - William Cousins discusses his marriage to a Japanese woman

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - William Cousins recalls his early career with Chicago Title and Trust Company

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - William Cousins details his work for the states attorney's office

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - William Cousins recounts setting up a private law practice

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - William Cousins recollects his early involvement in Chicago politics

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - William Cousins remembers becoming a judge

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - William Cousins lists his contemporaries as a black alderman in Chicago

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - William Cousins recalls being a Republican in the era of the Daley Democratic Party machine

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - William Cousins details why he left the Republican Party

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - William Cousins explains what made him a good judge

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - William Cousins recounts losing his campaign for Supreme Court judgeship

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - William Cousins remembers his successes as a judge

Tape: 6 Story: 1 - William Cousins shares his hopes and concerns for the black community

Tape: 6 Story: 2 - William Cousins discusses his parents' views of his success

Tape: 6 Story: 3 - William Cousins considers his legacy

DASession

1$1

DATape

1$4

DAStory

6$5

DATitle
William Cousins recounts growing up in Memphis
William Cousins remembers becoming a judge
Transcript
All right and sir, can you reflect back and give us a sense of what it was like to grow up--growing up in--well in Swiftown [Mississippi] and in Memphis [Tennessee].$$Well, I don't know too much about growing up in Swiftown and I have some--just some fleeting memories that's all. But Memphis I know well.$$All right.$$I knew Memphis from top to bottom in a sense when I was there because I moved around Memphis and went to various places.$$[Simultaneously] Did the family move around?$$Not so much by virtue of moving from house to house. Although we lived in about three different locations as I recall and in one location my parents had a little store and a restaurant, one of the earlier places where we lived. And the last place was a--the third place was a place across the street from a church; it's on South Willard Avenue. But--but I traveled around the city myself as a boy going downtown and to the movies on Beale Street, which was a regular sojourn for me on the weekends to go to the movies early. W. C. Handy Park or the Daisy Theater for that matter. Beale Street then was a place where they said black folks met. They didn't--any blacks to me. And then I had newspaper route I had with a newspaper called the Memphis World. The [Chicago] Defender was in circulation at that time. This maybe--is the mid 30s [1930s] we're talking about this time. And I developed the largest circulation that the Memphis World had in the city. I rode around the city to where maids worked in the houses, you see. I did on my bike. I had a bike and I otherwise traveled. I knew the city well and was acquainted to some extent with what was happening in the city. In those days they had Boss running Memphis--in Memphis. His name was [Edward Hull] Crump, Boss Crump, everything revolved around Boss Crump. The city of Chicago [Illinois] here in Chicago you know, they talk about the [Daley] Machine, Crump. I knew that, you see, that matter. So I attended, you know, grade school there. Three--two different schools and later Greenwood [Elementary School, Memphis, Tennessee] and reached the sixth grade there before my family moved finally to Chicago. One thing I might say about there you know, your neighborhoods were such that blacks and whites lived in a sense in an interstitial situation, blacks on one street and whites on another street. And when you might cross, you know, it wasn't, you know, such as all--it was in some areas, you see? So when I went to school, grade school I passed from my area through white areas to get to the black school that I attended, Greenwood, you see? So--and I recall the circumstances really and can even picture the buildings, you know, we had. Which, of course, they didn't have integration there in their schools but we received a tremendous education in those segregated schools that I--the teachers, some of them I still recall them and how they taught us. And we became acquainted with the Black National Anthem [Lift Every Voice and Sing]. That's one of the songs we sang, you see, at that time. We were familiar with people like Marian Anderson. We were. When I came to Chicago I found less awareness of certain things than I was aware of as a student in Memphis--.$$So--.$$--in grade school.$$So the teachers made a special attempt to make sure that you knew who you were culturally and--.$$I'd say yes.$$Yes.$$Oh yes, oh yes. At the school I was in attendance yes. Right.$$Okay now what was the name of the school?$$Well the last was Greenwood, it's no longer. It's a frame school. It was as things were segregated. If I had remained in Memphis I would have attended Booker T. Washington [High] School 'cause Booker were--which is the school where most black--Negroes was the word then--attended.$In 1976 some new judgeships were, of course, created by the state legislature and ten were judgeships to where people--where the new judges were to be elected from the city of Chicago [Illinois] by votes. Only the city people voted, in the city of Chicago. And I had run for reelection twice in '71 [1971] and '75 [1975] and been elected although they changed the ward dramatically. They took all of Chatham away from me after the first election and gave me--.$$--southeast area.$$--the area east of Stony Island.$$Yeah. They moved--one time they moved me into South Chicago during a court decision. That was a court proceeding there because I had been one of the principal challenges in the city rezoning in 1971. And I said that they had rezoned so that they diluted the black vote and diluted the black strength in wards, so that they could minimize the number of black aldermen. And that's exactly what they had done. And a court had decided that I was partially right, you see. They made a change and gave me South Chicago but then the appellate court looked at that and said, "Well, we're not gonna let that stand. Revert it back to what it was." And it went back. But after election in '76 [1976]--in '75 [1975], I ran for a judicial position in '76 [1976] and the primary--was nominated and took my judicial office as circuit court judge in December of '76 [1976], and have been on the bench since.