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. Arthur Rocker, Sr.

Civil rights activist Reverend Dr. Arthur "Art" Rocker, Sr. was born on June 22, 1955 in Atlanta, Georgia to Samuel William Rocker, Sr. and Reba Craft-Rocker. From the age of seven until eighteen years of age, Rocker was raised and mentored by Reverend Dr. William Holmes Borders, pastor of Wheat Street Baptist Church in Atlanta, Georgia. At the age of sixteen, Rocker became the president of the youth chapter of the Democratic Party Club. After graduating from L.J. Price High School in 1963, Rocker enlisted in the U.S. Army and served for three years. Rocker then attended the Massey Business College earning his Associate’s degree. He then went on to attend Carver Bible Institute in 1969 and was ordained as a minister and evangelized by Reverend Dr. William Holmes Borders. He also served as assistant Pastor of his father’s church, the late Reverend Samuel William Rocker, Sr. After enrolling at Albany State University, Rocker became the chief organizer of the Shirley Chisholm Campaign under the leadership of Lonnie King, Executive Director for the Atlanta NAACP. Rocker majored in accounting at ASU, and went on to receive his Series 63, 7 and 24 investment banking licenses from the Investment Training Institute in Atlanta, Georgia. He is one of the founders of the National Association of Security Professionals in Atlanta, along with Mayor Maynard Jackson.

From 1994 to 2008, Rocker worked several jobs, but was primarily active in community organizing. Mentored by the late Dr. Benjamin Mays, former president of Morehouse College, he worked under the leadership of Dr. Warren Cochrane, General Secretary of the Butler Street YMCA in Atlanta, Georgia and Reverend Hosea Williams, President of Atlanta SCLC. He served as a consultant for the National Presidential Election Campaign, and co-chairman of National Presidential Campaign. Prior to his appointment as senior vice president of Governmental Affairs at LHS EV in 2008, Rocker worked briefly as a real estate agent at the Grand Bahamas Developments in the Grand Bahamas Islands. Additionally, Rocker served as an investment banker at Stuart-James Investments, Portfolio Management Consultants and Rocker Securities, Inc. In 2008, Rocker began his tenure as the Chairman of Southern Christian Leadership Conference for the entire state of Florida. In the wake of the 2010 British Petroleum Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill in the Gulf of Mexico, Rocker founded Operation People for Peace, Inc., an organization which serves on the United Nations (UN) Council in the area of Civic and Society. In 2015, Rocker was appointed Presiding Bishop of University of Bethesda Biblical Institute of North America.

Rocker also played a central role in local and national community organizing and politics throughout his career. He served as vice chairman of City of Atlanta transition team for Mayor Maynard Jackson, and the transition team for Governor Charles Christ of Florida. In recognition of his service, Rocker received numerous awards including The Good Brother Award from National Congress of Black Women, Inc., the Chairman’s Award from the Asian American Hotel Owners Association, the Business Award from the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, and the Outstanding Business Award from the Atlanta Jewish Center. Additionally, Rocker has been named Senior Fellow of the James Madison Institute. Rocker has received honorary degrees from Faith Bible College in Milton, Florida and A.P. Clay Bible College in New Orleans, Louisiana. Rocker is the father of three children and is married to Jessica Donahue-Rocker. He resides in the Gulf Coast region in Florida.

Arthur M. Rocker, Sr. was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on October 26, 2012.

Accession Number

A2012.201

Sex

Male

Interview Date

10/26/2012

Last Name

Rocker

Maker Category
Marital Status

Widowed

Schools

Morehouse College

Price Middle School

Massey College of Business & Technology

Carver Bible College

Albany State University

Faith Bible College

A.P. Clay Christian College

Georgia Institute of Real Estate

Investment Training Institute

James Madison Institute

Yonge Street Elementary School

First Name

Arthur

Birth City, State, Country

Atlanta

HM ID

ROC01

Favorite Season

All Seasons

State

Georgia

Favorite Vacation Destination

Anywhere

Favorite Quote

Thank You, God.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Florida

Birth Date

6/22/1955

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Pensacola

Country

United States

Favorite Food

None

Short Description

Civil rights activist Reverend Dr. Arthur Rocker, Sr. (1955 - ) was the founder and chairman of Operation People for Peace, Inc.

Employment

Grand Bahama Development

Rocker Chemical Co.

Stuart-James Investments

Portfolio Mgt. Consultants

Operation People for Peace

White Rocker Baptist Church

Congresswoman Cynthia McKinney

Office of State Representative Billy McKinney

Favorite Color

All Colors

Timing Pairs
0,0:429,4:1562,19:17076,170:17500,175:19726,219:21104,238:25042,273:25832,288:33108,430:49986,624:53585,657:57073,714:57509,719:60294,744:61398,758:67540,852:94082,1127:94494,1235:101500,1342$0,0:235,40:3910,114:6085,156:7585,185:7885,190:8185,195:8785,204:9910,244:19605,344:20455,368:21220,378:22495,398:22835,403:23770,417:37639,630:38794,651:39333,659:41951,702:44492,820:45339,834:46032,844:51710,874:52610,898:68216,1141:69945,1165:70764,1177:74410,1202:75130,1211:76030,1224:76570,1241:77200,1267:78460,1345:79270,1357:82240,1397:91867,1490:92614,1500:96935,1525:99531,1579:99826,1585:101580,1596:101860,1601:102140,1606:102630,1615:103050,1622:105790,1654:106118,1659:106856,1670:107266,1676:107594,1681:109234,1705:114482,1792:114810,1797:118870,1819:120105,1843:123586,1903:125142,1912:125707,1918:128973,1946:129781,1955:130185,1960:130690,1966:134225,2010:142346,2109:142698,2114:145338,2146:145866,2153:152244,2216:153196,2237:158772,2352:159112,2358:159520,2365:160200,2378:161084,2393:168410,2477:171460,2515:179960,2636:181400,2653:181904,2662:186224,2760:186872,2772:188168,2812:192030,2818:193878,2844:196734,2888:197322,2900:197994,2909:205296,2984:205786,2990:206570,3008:210782,3053:213604,3102:217422,3169:220360,3189:222330,3222
DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Reverend Dr. Arthur Rocker, Sr.'s interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Reverend Dr. Arthur Rocker, Sr. lists his favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Reverend Dr. Arthur Rocker, Sr. describes his mother's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Reverend Dr. Arthur Rocker, Sr. describes the racial violence in Atlanta, Georgia

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Reverend Dr. Arthur Rocker, Sr. describes his mother's upbringing

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Reverend Dr. Arthur Rocker, Sr. talks about the sundown towns near Atlanta, Georgia

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Reverend Dr. Arthur Rocker, Sr. describes his maternal uncles' migration to Chicago, Illinois

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Reverend Dr. Arthur Rocker, Sr. describes his father's family background, pt. 1

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Reverend Dr. Arthur Rocker, Sr. describes his father's family background, pt. 2

Tape: 1 Story: 10 - Reverend Dr. Arthur Rocker, Sr. talks about his father's education

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Reverend Dr. Arthur Rocker, Sr. describes his father's occupation

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Reverend Dr. Arthur Rocker, Sr. recalls his family's home on Georgia Avenue, pt. 1

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Reverend Dr. Arthur Rocker, Sr. describes how his parents met

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Reverend Dr. Arthur Rocker, Sr. lists his siblings

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Reverend Dr. Arthur Rocker, Sr. recalls his family's home on Georgia Avenue, pt. 2

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Reverend Dr. Arthur Rocker, Sr. remembers finding chickens for his mother

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Reverend Dr. Arthur Rocker, Sr. remembers Yonge Street Elementary School in Atlanta, Georgia

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Reverend Dr. Arthur Rocker, Sr. recalls his route to school

Tape: 2 Story: 9 - Reverend Dr. Arthur Rocker, Sr. remembers moving to the Thomasville Heights section of Atlanta, Georgia

Tape: 2 Story: 10 - Reverend Dr. Arthur Rocker, Sr. describes the smells of his childhood

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Reverend Dr. Arthur Rocker, Sr. describes his relationship with his siblings, pt. 1

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Reverend Dr. Arthur Rocker, Sr. remembers the Zion Hill Baptist Church in Atlanta, Georgia

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Reverend Dr. Arthur Rocker, Sr. talks about race relations in Atlanta, Georgia

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Reverend Dr. Arthur Rocker, Sr. describes his relationship with his siblings, pt. 2

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Reverend Dr. Arthur Rocker, Sr. recalls his misconceptions about Jewish people

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Reverend Dr. Arthur Rocker, Sr. remembers his favorite elementary school teachers

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Reverend Dr. Arthur Rocker, Sr. remembers living with William Holmes Borders

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Reverend Dr. Arthur Rocker, Sr. describes William Holmes Borders' relationships with other ministers in Atlanta, Georgia

Tape: 3 Story: 9 - Reverend Dr. Arthur Rocker, Sr. recalls William Holmes Borders' visitors, pt. 1

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Reverend Dr. Arthur Rocker, Sr. recalls William Holmes Borders' move to Hunter Street

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Reverend Dr. Arthur Rocker, Sr. recalls William Holmes Borders' departure from the Morehouse College School of Religion

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Reverend Dr. Arthur Rocker, Sr. remembers Joseph H. Jackson

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Reverend Dr. Arthur Rocker, Sr. recalls Coretta Scott King's circumstances after her husband's assassination

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Reverend Dr. Arthur Rocker, Sr. talks about the establishment of the Wheat Street Federal Credit Union

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Reverend Dr. Arthur Rocker, Sr. recalls attending meetings with William Holmes Borders

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Reverend Dr. Arthur Rocker, Sr. describes the rivalry between Martin Luther King, Sr. and William Holmes Borders

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Reverend Dr. Arthur Rocker, Sr. remembers Julia Pate Borders' friendships

Tape: 4 Story: 9 - Reverend Dr. Arthur Rocker, Sr. recalls William Holmes Borders' visitors, pt. 2

Tape: 4 Story: 10 - Reverend Dr. Arthur Rocker, Sr. remembers working for Benjamin Mays

Tape: 4 Story: 11 - Reverend Dr. Arthur Rocker, Sr. recalls his early interest in art

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Reverend Dr. Arthur Rocker, Sr. recalls his fundraising efforts for Luther Judson Price High School

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Reverend Dr. Arthur Rocker, Sr. remembers living at William Holmes Borders' house

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Reverend Dr. Arthur Rocker, Sr. recalls his brother's membership in the Nation of Islam

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Reverend Dr. Arthur Rocker, Sr. recalls his decision to join the U.S. Army

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Reverend Dr. Arthur Rocker, Sr. talks about the civil rights activities of 1963

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Reverend Dr. Arthur Rocker, Sr. recalls his refusal to serve in the Vietnam War

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Reverend Dr. Arthur Rocker, Sr. describes his small loan business in the U.S. Army

Tape: 5 Story: 8 - Reverend Dr. Arthur Rocker, Sr. remembers his interactions with the Central Intelligence Agency

Tape: 5 Story: 9 - Reverend Dr. Arthur Rocker, Sr. remembers his return to Atlanta, Georgia

Tape: 5 Story: 10 - Reverend Dr. Arthur Rocker, Sr. talks about the impact of the Vietnam War

Tape: 5 Story: 11 - Reverend Dr. Arthur Rocker, Sr. recalls his decision to further his education

Tape: 6 Story: 1 - Reverend Dr. Arthur Rocker, Sr. recalls visiting Julia Pate Borders on her deathbed

Tape: 6 Story: 2 - Reverend Dr. Arthur Rocker, Sr. remembers his expulsion from Morehouse College

Tape: 6 Story: 3 - Reverend Dr. Arthur Rocker, Sr. talks about his brothers' occupations

Tape: 6 Story: 4 - Reverend Dr. Arthur Rocker, Sr. recalls Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.'s assassination, pt. 1

Tape: 6 Story: 5 - Reverend Dr. Arthur Rocker, Sr. recalls Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.'s assassination, pt. 2

Tape: 6 Story: 6 - Reverend Dr. Arthur Rocker, Sr. remembers Samuel Dewitt Proctor

Tape: 6 Story: 7 - Reverend Dr. Arthur Rocker, Sr. describes the split of the National Baptist Convention, USA, Inc.

Tape: 6 Story: 8 - Reverend Dr. Arthur Rocker, Sr. remembers Hosea Williams

Tape: 6 Story: 9 - Reverend Dr. Arthur Rocker, Sr. talks about William Holmes Borders' friends in Atlanta, Georgia

Tape: 6 Story: 10 - Reverend Dr. Arthur Rocker, Sr. describes his interest in accounting

Tape: 7 Story: 1 - Reverend Dr. Arthur Rocker, Sr. describes how he met his wife

Tape: 7 Story: 2 - Reverend Dr. Arthur Rocker, Sr. talks about African Americans that passed as white

Tape: 7 Story: 3 - Reverend Dr. Arthur Rocker, Sr. describes the effects of integration

Tape: 7 Story: 4 - Reverend Dr. Arthur Rocker, Sr. recalls his conversations with Benjamin Mays

Tape: 7 Story: 5 - Reverend Dr. Arthur Rocker, Sr. talks about skin color prejudice

Tape: 7 Story: 6 - Reverend Dr. Arthur Rocker, Sr. recalls working for Warren Cochrane

Tape: 7 Story: 7 - Reverend Dr. Arthur Rocker, Sr. recalls organizing voters for Shirley Chisholm's presidential campaign

Tape: 7 Story: 8 - Reverend Dr. Arthur Rocker, Sr. recalls being asked to leave Albany State College

Tape: 7 Story: 9 - Reverend Dr. Arthur Rocker, Sr. describes the accusations against him at Albany State College

DASession

1$1

DATape

6$7

DAStory

10$6

DATitle
Reverend Dr. Arthur Rocker, Sr. describes his interest in accounting
Reverend Dr. Arthur Rocker, Sr. recalls working for Warren Cochrane
Transcript
Now when you--well what did you focus on when you were at the Massey Business College [Atlanta, Georgia], yeah?$$Business administration, accounting.$$Okay.$$I wanted to make sure that I learned about accounting. It's been a fascinating situation for me. Reason being is because at the church [Wheat Street Baptist Church, Atlanta, Georgia], there was Deacon Ferris [ph.], he was a guy that used to handle all the money for the church. And back behind the curtain, when I say behind the curtain it's not per se behind the curtain, what it was, was a room about half this size, from here to there. Deacon Ferris would be there. And that's where all the money was counted. It was, as you well know we had over five thousand people. It was thousands and thousands of dollars used to be counted there. My brothers worked there, they couldn't go in that room. No one could go in that room but me. Reverend Borders [William Holmes Borders] would sit in the room and he would let me come in the room 'cause I, you know, he would tell me, "Go get my Coca-Cola and meet behind the curtain." And they would sit there and they talk. The only thing that I picked up was the word accounting, accounting, accounting. And I kept talking about accounting and learned that it meant keeping books and what have you, and that's what I wanted to do.$Now we're in the early '70s [1970s] now when you were driving for Benjamin Mays and working for Warren Cochrane?$$Warren Cochrane--$$Yeah.$$--the community foundation. Warren Cochrane came back from New York [New York], he was over the Butler Street YMCA [Atlanta, Georgia]. The Butler Street YMCA was an all-black YMCA. You had black YMCAs that was established in different places. And in New York there was one that was established where there was whites involved. But they brought Warren Cochrane up there to be general secretary because he was strong with the Negro Voters League [Atlanta Negro Voters League]. He was a great organizer. He came up there, [HistoryMaker] Vernon Jordan was up there, Wyatt Tee [HistoryMaker Reverend Dr. Wyatt Tee Walker] was up there, a lot of folks, New York was the mecca of trying to get something done. The, the congressman I think he had died or he could have--something but they was all up in New York doing a number of things. And Warren was such a pioneer here, so he came back to Atlanta [Georgia], when I say, I'm sorry we're here in Detroit [Michigan] but I'm saying Atlanta. We came back to Atlanta, he was able to get money from the Coca-Cola Bottling Company, the Trust Company of Georgia [SunTrust Banks], Life of Georgia [Life Insurance Company of Georgia, Atlanta, Georgia], all of these major places. They put about $5 million in a foundation. He hired me to be his organizer and to literally run the place where he was the executive director. And we had $5 million, the responsibility we had was to go into the black community, give away money to repair homes that they was living in. Some people had moved into homes and after getting into the house, it was a new arena coming in called fair housing. But they was moving into housing but there was something else going on called block bustering [block busting]. Block bustering is when the white community bought up, bought property from white people and put two or three black people in there that didn't have an income, had a lot of children, scare the community and they ran out, and some blacks began to move in and the credit situation was a little lenient because whites was helping each other get out of one place and even the banks, the white banker was helping finance other blacks. But a lot of blacks was getting into these places that did not understand the significance of owning a home. Your hot water heater goes out, you have to cut the grass, you have to buy a lawn mower. Sometimes you have to buy another door, screen door, it was a whole new lesson had to be taught. So what we did, the $5 million would go into the community. We would teach you how to buy a door, what to do with a hot water heater, how you buy another TV, what you do, and we would lend you this money because we did not want a situation to occur the way it was happening that second mortgage companies or pawnshops was buying, getting lien on homes and selling their homes before the people could be in their a year and a half. So the foundation was set up for the purpose of lending money with no interest rate, and my job was to give it away and to find the people who needed the money. And I did that.