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Father Darryl F. James

Father Darryl F. James was born on July 3, 1954 in Bridgeport, Connecticut to Laurayne Farrar James and Anthony James, Sr. His family grew up in both Richmond, Virginia and Spring Valley, New York. He earned his B.A. degree from Howard University in 1975, and his M.Div. degree from Yale University in 1979.

Upon graduation from Yale Divinity School, James was assigned to Trinity Cathedral in Newark, New Jersey, where he worked under the tutelage of Dean Dillard Robinson. He was then ordained as a deacon in 1984 at St. Matthew’s and St. Joseph’s Church, where he was also appointed Assistant for Youth and Young Adult Ministries. In 1985, James was ordained to the priesthood by the Reverend John M. Burgess in Detroit, Michigan. Later that year, James became the rector of the Messiah-St. Bartholomew Church in Chicago, Illinois, where he remained for twenty-one years. James was subsequently named to the Chicago School Board, serving from 1990 to 1995. Also in 1990, he was named the National President of the Union of Black Episcopalians. James then moved to leadership of the historic Grace Episcopal Church in Jamaica, Queens as Priest-in-Charge in 2007. Three years later, he assumed the role as church rector. A member of the Diocese of Long Island and the Queens community, James also joined the Investment Committee and the Episcopal Health Service Board of Managers, and co-founded the Downtown Jamaica Clergy. He later served as president of the Queens Federation of Churches.

James launched several initiatives at Grace Episcopal Church, including the Bishop Thompson, Jr. Summer Music and Arts Workshop, the annual Father’s Day Men of Valor Luncheon, and the Volunteers Appreciation Dinner, among others. In 2005, James, in partnership with St. Luke’s Episcopal Church, assisted Hurricane Katrina victims in New Orleans, Louisiana, providing aid and performing mission work in the region. He also participated in a pilgrimage to Northern India, visiting the Diocese of Mumbai and North India in Delhi. James also sponsored college tours for prospective college students throughout the United States.

Father Darryl F. James was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on December 13, 2016.

Accession Number

A2016.125

Sex

Male

Interview Date

12/13/2016

Last Name

James

Maker Category
Middle Name

Farrar

Occupation
Organizations
Schools

Howard University

Albert V. Norrell Elementary School

J. E. B. Stuart Elementary School

J. A. C. Chandler Junior High School

Armstrong High School

Absalom Jones Theological Institute

Yale Divinity School

Ramapo High School

First Name

Darryl

Birth City, State, Country

Bridgeport

HM ID

JAM08

Favorite Season

Late Spring, Early Summer

State

Connecticut

Favorite Vacation Destination

South Africa, Barbados

Favorite Quote

Grace Is The Place Where All God’s People Are Welcome To Participate In Ministry.$

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

New York

Birth Date

7/3/1954

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

New York

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Pound Cake, Bread Pudding, Ice Cream

Short Description

Father Darryl F. James (1954 - ) was the rector of the Messiah-St. Bartholomew Church in Chicago, Illinois for twenty-one years, before becoming the rector of the historic Grace Episcopal Church in Jamaica, Queens.

Employment

Messiah St. Bartholomew Church

Grace Episcopal Church

Favorite Color

Blue, Earth Tones

Timing Pairs
0,0:865,10:9019,143:11443,170:21904,299:22562,316:23126,323:37316,466:37808,473:38464,482:39202,496:39694,507:40104,513:43080,558:44440,579:60748,762:61324,778:61900,785:62476,792:64204,823:64780,830:66700,863:77621,967:81971,1047:86880,1093:87240,1098:87960,1111:92150,1148:92500,1154:92780,1164:96940,1244:97430,1252:110717,1418:112497,1461:113476,1487:114188,1497:116982,1510:117366,1515:124305,1621:136870,1785:150110,1955:150400,1961:151038,1974:154186,2028:161322,2195:163578,2282:164612,2334:172478,2405:185736,2596:186380,2605:190888,2708:195070,2713:195526,2720:197380,2740:198150,2752:198710,2762:201648,2812:210620,2916:217670,2985:220324,3020:223340,3056:225115,3102:226251,3126:226819,3135:233102,3159:233676,3167:234086,3173:238053,3219:240284,3267:242969,3308:251360,3391:252008,3396:257312,3446:258378,3481:259630,3488$0,0:1693,29:3574,59:5670,65:12040,137:14380,155:14737,163:27160,267:27556,272:27952,277:39119,427:42100,452:42796,462:51452,530:53664,539:53992,544:56378,560:57698,664:69415,727:70000,737:82038,938:84846,1003:85206,1010:86646,1043:88806,1089:90894,1136:99545,1204:101107,1243:102901,1253:104980,1305:105827,1320:109514,1352:125900,1534:127940,1542:128268,1547:128596,1552:138248,1639:162090,1884:162720,1895:163420,1906:164330,1932:172170,2037:176904,2095:177306,2102:177574,2112:181228,2168:193436,2246:196444,2312:201850,2347
DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Father Darryl F. James' interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Father Darryl F. James lists his favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Father Darryl F. James describes his father's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Father Darryl F. James talks about his father's education and occupation

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Father Darryl F. James remembers Camp Atwater in North Brookfield, Massachusetts, pt. 1

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Father Darryl F. James remembers Camp Atwater in North Brookfield, Massachusetts, pt. 2

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Father Darryl F. James describes his mother's family background, pt. 1

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Father Darryl F. James describes his mother's family background, pt. 1

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Father Darryl F. James recalls how his parents met and married

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Father Darryl F. James describes his earliest childhood memories

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Father Darryl F. James describes the sights, sounds and smells of his childhood

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Father Darryl F. James recalls his parents' involvement in the Civil Rights Movement

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Father Darryl F. James describes his early experiences of religion

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Father Darryl F. James talks about the history of the Episcopal church

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Father Darryl F. James recalls his early experiences in the Episcopal church

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Father Darryl F. James recalls his early education

Tape: 2 Story: 9 - Father Darryl F. James remembers moving to Spring Valley, New York

Tape: 2 Story: 10 - Father Darryl F. James recalls his extracurricular activities

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Father Darryl F. James remembers his social life in Westchester County, New York

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Father Darryl F. James recalls his time at Howard University

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Father Darryl F. James remembers his activities at Howard University

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Father Darryl F. James recalls his training to join the ministry

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Father Darryl F. James recalls his experiences at the Yale Divinity School in New Haven, Connecticut

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Father Darryl F. James recalls his mentors at the Yale Divinity School

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Father Darryl F. James remembers the women's liberation movement

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Father Darryl F. James recalls the development of his ideology at Yale Divinity School

Tape: 3 Story: 9 - Father Darryl F. James remembers his lay assistantships

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Father Darryl F. James remembers Orris G. Walker, Jr.

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Father Darryl F. James describes the spiritual foundation of his priesthood

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Father Darryl F. James talks about the ordination process

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Father Darryl F. James describes his ministry in Chicago, Illinois

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Father Darryl F. James recalls his challenges in Chicago, Illinois, pt. 1

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Father Darryl F. James recalls his challenges in Chicago, Illinois, pt. 2

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Father Darryl F. James recalls his decision to leave his congregation in Chicago, Illinois

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Father Darryl F. James recall joining the Grace Episcopal Church in Queens, New York, pt. 1

Tape: 4 Story: 9 - Father Darryl F. James recall joining the Grace Episcopal Church in Queens, New York, pt. 2

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Father Darryl F. James talks about his duties at the Grace Episcopal Church in Queens, New York

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Father Darryl F. James talks about the need for youth in the ministry

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Father Darryl F. James talks about his activism through the church, pt. 1

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Father Darryl F. James talks about his activism through the church, pt. 2

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Father Darryl F. James reflects upon his legacy

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Father Darryl F. James reflects upon life

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Father Darryl F. James shares his advice for aspiring African American ministers

Tape: 5 Story: 8 - Father Darryl F. James narrates his photographs

DASession

1$1

DATape

3$5

DAStory

5$4

DATitle
Father Darryl F. James recalls his experiences at the Yale Divinity School in New Haven, Connecticut
Father Darryl F. James talks about his activism through the church, pt. 2
Transcript
So what's going on in our country at the time that you are at Yale [Yale Divinity School, New Haven, Connecticut]? You know, what's happening socially that is informing your study?$$It's kind of hard to say because I was so busy in my studies (laughter) (simultaneous)--$$(Simultaneous) So much so that you weren't paying attention to what's going on outside--$$No, not that I wasn't paying attention, but, 'cause let me see, '77 [1977] to '79 [1979], I was, I was really involved with what was called the black church at Yale. And so there was, you know, there was still that black consciousness for me. And I don't know, I mean I felt like I was in a cocoon again, you know, that, you know, because you're, you're in an environment where you're not dealing with, you know, mostly racial issues and that kind of thing, except when I was in the--it was in one class called the, called the, oh, Dr. Allen [David F. Allen]. He was a, he was a psychiatrist. It was called the social something for ministry. It was, it was like a, it was like a psychology, a psychology of ministry. It was like that. And I remember in one class--you know, you never know what people are thinking. But there was one girl in the class who said--and we were talking about race, or something (unclear) on nature. And she said, so anyway, it came up that, you know, well, "What do you think about black people?" She says, "Well, my experience has been that when they were in school, they would always cheat and steal." She said this.$$Did she know that you were black?$$There were, there were like four or five of us in the class who were black. (Laughter) And, man, before we--well, we let her have it. We, we gave her, we gave her--we talked to her from like from 'Amazing Grace' to a floating opportunity (laughter), and she--I think she'll never forget that conversation. We said, "You know what? Just look at all the, the, you know, the people who are in, in these positions of leadership who are lying and cheating and stealing in politics," (laughter). "They're not black," (laughter). So, you know, we, we had that conversation. So that was an eye opening experience, you know, at that time.$$That she said this--$$She said it.$$--in front of (simultaneous)--$$(Simultaneous) She said it in front of us.$$--multiple black people--$$People, yes, she did.$$--who she knew were black.$$Yeah, she did. She said it.$$Unconscionable.$$Yeah.$$So what--did you sway her, I mean in your--in all of you spoke to her, but--$$We all spoke to her.$$--what happened through that conversation? Did, did you open her eyes to what she was saying?$$I don't know if we opened her eyes or not, but I think she was, she went away really thinking, you know, differently about the situation. I, I believe she did. She was like a little puppy dog with, you know, her tail between her legs when she was leaving. But, I mean, but, but this is the--I think the media has, you know, has done disservice to people of color in that--$$In what particular way did you mean?$$Well, like, you know, for example, you know, always showing, you know, like whenever there's an issue of, of someone doing something, you know, which is, you know, of a criminal act or something of that nature in the community, you know, they always seem to showcase someone of color, you know. It seems to be that way. So, just trying to show that, you know, people are people. There're good people and (laughter) there're bad people.$And then I wanna address the political for, for a moment. While churches are not supposed to be directly involved in politics, the, the congregations are dealing with whatever is coming up, and so we've had this election in 2016. How--what has been the interaction with your congregation [at Grace Episcopal Church, Queens, New York] and you as clergy during this time?$$Well, pre-election, one of the things I did was, I, I spoke to my congregation about the importance of their civic responsibility and duty of voting. And I spoke to them from a historic perspective, as people of color in this country. And I think that it really worked because I had a few people come up to me and said, "Father, I've never voted," and these are people from the Caribbean, you know, mostly. She said, "I've never voted before." She said, "But father," she said, "I'm going to register." And I--so if one person, if it made a difference for one person, I'm sure somebody thought about it. The other thing was that I invited one of the organizations here to do a voter--I was gonna do it with my group, but since other people were doing voter registration. So I had them here, and, and I just, and I just told people, I said, "Listen," I said, "you know, you have a responsibility to get to your--to get to the people in your family, you know, to make your, your vote known and, and to be counted." Now, post-election, would you like to know what I had to say about that?$$Yes.$$Post-election, some of my members were, you know, they were angry. Some were really despondent, and, you know, saddened and the kind of thing like that. My sermon that Sunday was, we have been here before. And I said to my congregation, and I raised my hand, I said, "On this day, just remember Father James [HistoryMaker Father Darryl F. James] told you, God is in charge. God is in charge. So there's a reason why everything happens. We've been here before. We've been here for Reaganomics, we've been here historically, you know." So I've just--I just mentioned all the things--I gave them the road of all the things that have happened. I said, "And we will survive because we're a people of hope." I went to Micah, I think it's Micah 6:8 [sic.], that we are people who live as though--we, we do not live as though we do not have hope. We hope for the future.

James Breeden

James Pleasant Breeden was born on October 14, 1934 in Minneapolis, Minnesota to Florence Beatrice Thomas, a secretary and homemaker, and Pleasant George Breeden, a railroad dining car waiter. He was raised by his mother and stepfather Noah Smith and attended Harrison Elementary School and Lincoln Junior High School, both in Minneapolis. In 1952, Breeden graduated from North High School in Minneapolis and attended Dartmouth College.

In 1956, Breeden graduated cum laude from Dartmouth College with his B.A. degree. Two years later, he married Jeanne Marie Savoye in Geneva, Switzerland. The following year, Breeden obtained a certificate from the University of Geneva in connection with his work at the Ecumenical Institute World Council of Churches in Bossey, Switzerland. In 1960, Breeden graduated from Union Theological Seminary with his M.Div degree and moved to Boston, where he joined the Episcopal Diocese of Massachusetts.

From 1960 until 1965, Breeden was a member of the Episcopal Diocese as a deacon, priest and canon at St. James Church and St. Paul’s Cathedral. He became an advisor to Bishop Anson Phelps Stokes in the area of civil rights. During this period, Breeden was heavily involved in the Civil Rights Movement. In 1961, he participated in the Freedom Rides and was arrested in Jackson, Mississippi for “action likely to cause a riot.” He and others were later freed when the case was dismissed. In 1963, Breeden helped organize the first “Stay out for Freedom” event in Boston protesting the city’s lack of quality public education for African American students. The following year, Breeden was involved in rent strikes against landlords who were taking advantage of their tenants.

Breeden joined the National Council of Churches’ activist leadership in 1965, where he would remain for two years coordinating non-violent mass protests. In 1967, Breeden became the Director for the Commission on Church and Race for the Massachusetts Council of Churches during the time of the Boston race riots. In 1969, Breeden joined the faculty at Harvard Graduate School of Education, and in 1972 he earned his Ed.D. degree from the school. Breeden moved to Tanzania and became Professor of Education at the University of Dar Es Salaam in 1973, where he set up a master’s degree program in education administration.

Breeden returned to Boston two years later, joining the Citywide Coordinating Council in 1976 and monitoring the Boston Public Schools’ compliance with the federal order to desegregate. In 1980, Breeden became a Senior Officer for Planning and Policy at Boston Public Schools. Breeden became a dean at Dartmouth College in 1984 of the William Jewett Tucker Foundation. In 1994, Breeden became a visiting scholar at the Howard Graduate School of Education, and in 2001 joined the School for International Training as adjunct faculty.

Breeden was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on September 12, 2007.

Accession Number

A2007.258

Sex

Male

Interview Date

9/12/2007

Last Name

Breeden

Schools

Dartmouth College

William H. Harrison Elementary School

Abraham Lincoln Junior High School

North High School

Harvard Graduate School of Education

Union Theological Seminary

First Name

James

Birth City, State, Country

Minneapolis

HM ID

BRE02

Favorite Season

Fall

State

Minnesota

Favorite Vacation Destination

Caribbean

Favorite Quote

If You Do Anything Significant In History, It’s Because Many People Were Working On It Before You; Or, If Anything Comes Out of It, It Will Be Because There Will Be Many People Working On It After You.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Massachusetts

Birth Date

10/14/1934

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Greenfield

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Curry

Short Description

Civil rights leader, academic administrator, and priest James Breeden (1934 - ) became a dean at Dartmouth College in 1984. In 1994, Breeden became a visiting scholar at the Howard Graduate School of Education, and in 2001 joined the School for International Training as adjunct faculty.

Employment

Diocese of Massachusetts

St. James Episcopal Church

Cathedral Church of St. Paul

University of Dar es Salaam

Citywide Coordinating Council

Boston Public Schools

Harvard Graduate School of Education

Howard University

School for International Training Graduate Institute

Favorite Color

Fall Colors

Timing Pairs
0,0:11463,104:12473,118:18080,151:18520,156:25022,213:27090,246:37006,395:37852,406:51145,503:57635,553:67600,637:73190,691:75936,706:76331,712:94084,926:95585,947:97876,997:99693,1075:100799,1094:107450,1138:108230,1153:108490,1158:109075,1169:109595,1179:113537,1214:114265,1224:117788,1248:125430,1301:126442,1313:128282,1340:129202,1351:134434,1397:148184,1567:159310,1706:165350,1764:166520,1782:174023,1856:174646,1865:177356,1891:179520,1909$0,0:0,6:320,11:640,16:960,28:3680,93:4960,109:5440,116:13676,164:15608,185:16160,192:17080,203:20790,217:21170,222:22405,263:24590,302:26812,314:27586,326:28790,343:29736,355:30596,367:31542,381:32058,388:36150,399:36510,404:39050,421:40562,441:41654,456:43082,474:43586,481:48002,494:52600,518:54532,534:57476,572:57844,577:60972,613:61800,623:62536,633:67715,651:69125,663:78428,741:78800,746:83391,763:84103,773:84459,781:85082,790:91110,821:92034,836:92790,847:93294,860:93966,870:95898,904:96402,912:97410,930:97830,936:102366,1014:109574,1081:111275,1107:111842,1116:113057,1238:113786,1249:114758,1264:115163,1270:123270,1346:125830,1355:126478,1365:126766,1370:131780,1416:133205,1432:134345,1446:135200,1453:135865,1462:136340,1468:140115,1491:143810,1529:146870,1565:147590,1574:148760,1589:159958,1668:165040,1805:165348,1810:166349,1828:167196,1844:168274,1861:168736,1871:169352,1883:170122,1894:171662,1919:175820,1929:176450,1938:176810,1943:177530,1953:185255,2039:185579,2044:186065,2052:197737,2191:207924,2303:213850,2348:215140,2356
DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of James Breeden's interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - James Breeden lists his favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - James Breeden describes his mother's family background, pt. 1

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - James Breeden describes his mother's family background, pt. 2

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - James Breeden describes his father's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - James Breeden talk about how his parents met

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - James Breeden describes his parents' personalities

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - James Breeden describes his earliest childhood memory

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - James Breeden describes the sights, sounds and smells of his childhood

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - James Breeden talks about the politics of Minneapolis, Minnesota

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - James Breeden describes his home life

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - James Breeden recalls the role of religion in his childhood

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - James Breeden describes his involvement in the Boy Scouts of America

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - James Breeden recalls the entertainment of his youth

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - James Breeden remembers William H. Harrison Elementary School in Minneapolis, Minnesota

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - James Breeden recalls Abraham Lincoln Junior High School in Minneapolis, Minnesota

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - James Breeden describes North High School in Minneapolis, Minnesota

Tape: 2 Story: 9 - James Breeden remembers the World Scout Jamboree in Austria

Tape: 2 Story: 10 - James Breeden describes his social life at North High School in Minneapolis, Minnesota

Tape: 2 Story: 11 - James Breeden remembers graduating as salutatorian

Tape: 2 Story: 12 - James Breeden describes his experiences at Dartmouth College in Hanover, New Hampshire

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - James Breeden describes the political climate at Dartmouth College in Hanover, New Hampshire

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - James Breeden recalls his experiences of racial discrimination at Dartmouth College

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - James Breeden remembers the Dartmouth Christian Union

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - James Breeden recalls his mentors at Dartmouth College

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - James Breeden recalls his induction to the Palaeopitus Senior Society

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - James Breeden recalls the Union Theological Seminary in New York City

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - James Breeden talks about Operation Crossroads Africa

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - James Breeden recalls his trip to Nigeria with Operation Crossroads Africa

Tape: 3 Story: 9 - James Breeden reflects upon his experiences in Nigeria

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - James Breeden remembers his wedding in Switzerland

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - James Breeden talks about his travels in Africa

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - James Breeden recalls his mentors at the Union Theological Seminary in New York City

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - James Breeden remembers the Civil Rights Movement in New York City

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - James Breeden recalls his involvement in the Freedom Rides, pt. 1

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - James Breeden recalls his involvement in the Freedom Rides, pt. 2

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - James Breeden describes his role in the Civil Rights Movement in Boston, Massachusetts

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - James Breeden remember Bishop Anson Phelps Stokes III

Tape: 4 Story: 9 - James Breeden recalls the civil rights issues in Boston, Massachusetts

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - James Breeden recalls organizing rent strikes in Boston, Massachusetts

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - James Breeden remembers the Highlander Folk School in New Market, Tennessee

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - James Breeden talks about his training as a community organizer

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - James Breeden recalls his role in Massachusetts Governor John A. Volpe's election, pt. 1

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - James Breeden recalls his role in Massachusetts Governor John A. Volpe's election, pt. 2

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - James Breeden describes the school desegregation crisis in Boston, Massachusetts

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - James Breeden talks about the activist community in Boston, Massachusetts

Tape: 5 Story: 8 - James Breeden reflects upon the desegregation of schools in Boston, Massachusetts

Tape: 6 Story: 1 - James Breeden reflects upon the legacy of desegregation in Boston, Massachusetts

Tape: 6 Story: 2 - James Breeden describes his role at Harvard Graduate School of Education in Cambridge, Massachusetts

Tape: 6 Story: 3 - James Breeden recalls teaching abroad in Tanzania

Tape: 6 Story: 4 - James Breeden remembers Charles Willie

Tape: 6 Story: 5 - James Breeden recalls the William Jewett Tucker Foundation in Hanover, New Hampshire

Tape: 6 Story: 6 - James Breeden talks about The Dartmouth Review

Tape: 6 Story: 7 - James Breeden remembers his retirement

Tape: 6 Story: 8 - James Breeden talks about a former student

Tape: 7 Story: 1 - James Breeden describes his hopes and concerns for the African American community

Tape: 7 Story: 2 - James Breeden reflects upon his life

Tape: 7 Story: 3 - James Breeden reflects upon his legacy

Tape: 7 Story: 4 - James Breeden reflects upon his family

Tape: 7 Story: 5 - James Breeden talks about the black experience

Tape: 7 Story: 6 - James Breeden describes how he would like to be remembered

Tape: 7 Story: 7 - James Breeden narrates his photographs

DASession

1$1

DATape

4$4

DAStory

6$9

DATitle
James Breeden recalls his involvement in the Freedom Rides, pt. 2
James Breeden recalls the civil rights issues in Boston, Massachusetts
Transcript
We were immediately arrested and taken to Jackson city jail [Jackson, Mississippi]. We stayed there six days 'til the trial occurred. One of the guys from Washington, D.C. was a very dark with short cut hair and when they asked him his race, he said, "Human." And so they interrogated him for about an hour to try to figure out which cell to put him in (laughter) and they finally figured out, correctly, that he was white (unclear) so they got him into the right cell unit. We were put on trial; the judge was an Episcopalian. He read to us from the prayer book about how we were supposed to obey the civil authorities. And found us guilty of, in some kind of weird thing, like behavior that was--that might cause civil disturbance or something like that, very vague kind of thing. And, anyway, there wasn't anybody there to disturb the civil (laughter) whatever, so we got bailed out, two stayed in. We got bailed--the rest got bailed out, several went to Detroit [Michigan] to the General Convention [General Convention of the Episcopal Church LX] to try to get some energy around some motions in the Episcopal--for the Episcopal church to take some positions, which was successful. They stopped off at a suburb of Detroit, which was a no blacks, probably no Jews, quota suburb, and probably significant number of Episcopalians to illustrate northern, you know, behavior of the Episcopal church. We stopped--I can't remember if it was that trip or not, but there had been a big controversy at Sewanee University [The University of the South], the Episcopal school in Tennessee [Sewanee, Tennessee] that had a theological unit to it. And all the theological faculty had resigned because the, the university wouldn't change its policies on race. We went there and visited with the, with the whatever rector or president of that, but at any rate, that was part of the, of the, of a kind of continuum.$Well, what were some of the issues here in Boston [Massachusetts] that you--$$Well, the, the biggest one was school desegregation. And twice I was to serve at the center of a a--an--a effort successful effort to get kids from the Roxbury [Boston, Massachusetts] schools, these would be the segregated schools, to stay out of school and go to alternative schools and churches, and social centers to call attention to the quality and lack of integration of schools in Boston Public Schools. So that was a big one. In housing, I paid most attention--my, I should say is a more general thing. My--I saw myself as primarily trying to figure out how to make things public and nonviolent and big so that I, I was always trying to figure how to make something larger enough so that it could be seen. So, for instance, when, when there was started to show up that there was trouble with landlords not taking care of their houses, and there were the housing that they were renting to people and so that housing was not meeting code. It was--there were, you know, vermin infesting it. People, women, who I knew from our parish [St. James Episcopal Church; St. John and St. James' Episcopal Church, Boston, Massachusetts], would be telling me stories of staying up all night with a, with a cast iron pan to hit a rat before it would bite one of their children something like that. And so, I learned that, you know, that these codes are just were not being, were not being enforced either out of laziness or bribery or whatever. So, what we did was adopt a--I think it actually started in New Jersey, rent strike. And the money would--for the rent would come to me and I would deposit it somewhere and then and (simultaneous)--$$(Simultaneous) So you'd hold it in escrow for them--$$Yes, exactly right. And then that way we'd get leverage on the landlords to get them into court. And eventually that, that resulted in a state law that was much easier to enforce and made it legal. It was illegal to hold rent in escrow when we started it, that made it legal to do that so you could come into court and say the reason I haven't paid rent in X number of months is that there's this, you know, electricity cord is frayed or there're vermin in the apartment or whatever. And gave quite a considerable lev- leverage to, to people and, you know, to, to renters.

Reverend Dr. Ruth Teena Williams

Reverend Dr. Ruth “Teena” Williams was born in New Orleans, Louisiana on October 4, 1927. Williams attended public schools in New Orleans, and after graduating from high school, she enrolled in Xavier University, earning her A.B. degree in 1947. She then attended St. Louis University in St. Louis, Missouri, earning her master’s of science in medical social work in 1950.

After earning her master’s degree, Williams moved to Chicago and was hired by Cook County Hospital as a social worker in 1950. In 1955, she was hired by the city of Chicago to work as a social worker with welfare recipients, and in 1957 she went to work for the Veterans Administration. In 1959, Williams joined in the family business, Unity Funeral Parlors, and went back to school to become a licensed funeral director and in 1964 she became an embalmer. Williams served as president and chairman of the board of Unity Funeral Parlors, as well as serving as president of Unity Limousine Services.

Wanting to help people, Williams enrolled in the Chicago Theological Seminary in 1977, and she earned her master’s of divinity and doctor of ministry degrees in 1980. Since then, she also earned a certificate in Anglican studies from Seabury-Western Theological Seminary and her Ph.D. from the Chicago Theological Seminary at the age of eighty. She served as a part-time priest at St. Edmund’s Episcopal Church in Chicago.

Williams was involved with numerous civic organizations, including The Links, Inc., the women’s board of the Field Museum and the Chicago Network. She had numerous awards bestowed upon her over the years, including the Spirit of Love award from the Little City Foundation and special recognition from the Links.

Williams was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on August 26, 2004.

Williams passed away on June 6, 2011.

Accession Number

A2004.147

Sex

Female

Interview Date

8/26/2004 |and| 9/15/2004

Last Name

Williams

Middle Name

Teena

Schools

Valena C. Jones Elementary School

McDonogh No. 35 Senior High School

Xavier University of Louisiana

Saint Louis University

Worsham College of Mortuary Science

Chicago Theological Seminary

Seabury-Western Theological Seminary

Institute for Spiritual Leadership

First Name

Ruth

Birth City, State, Country

New Orleans

HM ID

WIL17

Favorite Season

Fall

State

Louisiana

Favorite Vacation Destination

None

Favorite Quote

Thank You, God.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Illinois

Birth Date

10/4/1927

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Chicago

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Catfish (Fried), Beans (Red), Rice

Death Date

6/6/2011

Short Description

Funeral director and priest Reverend Dr. Ruth Teena Williams (1927 - 2011 ) was president and chairman of the board of Unity Funeral Parlors and president of Unity Limousine Services. She also served as a priest at St. Edmund’s Episcopal Church in Chicago. Williams passed away on June 6, 2011.

Employment

Cook County Hospital

City of Chicago

United States Department of Veterans Affairs

Unity Funeral Parlors

Unity Limousine Services

St. Edmund's Episcopal Church

Unity Mutual Life Insurance

St. James Episcopal Cathedral

St. Margaret of Scotland

Favorite Color

Blue, White

Timing Pairs
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DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Reverend Dr. Ruth Teena Williams' interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Reverend Dr. Ruth Teena Williams lists her favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Reverend Dr. Ruth Teena Williams describes her mother's family background, pt. 1

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Reverend Dr. Ruth Teena Williams describes her mother's family background, pt. 2

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Reverend Dr. Ruth Teena Williams remembers stories about her mother's childhood in Pass Christian, Mississippi

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Reverend Dr. Ruth Teena Williams describes her father's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Reverend Dr. Ruth Teena Williams talks about her father's family in Bay St. Louis, Mississippi

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Reverend Dr. Ruth Teena Williams explains how her parents' relationship began

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Reverend Dr. Ruth Teena Williams lists her siblings, pt. 1

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Reverend Dr. Ruth Teena Williams lists her siblings, pt. 2

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Reverend Dr. Ruth Teena Williams describes her earliest childhood memory

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Reverend Dr. Ruth Teena Williams describes the sights, sounds and smells of her childhood in New Orleans, Louisiana, pt. 1

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Reverend Dr. Ruth Teena Williams describes the sights, sounds and smells of her childhood in New Orleans, Louisiana, pt. 2

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Reverend Dr. Ruth Teena Williams remembers Creole culture in early twentieth- century New Orleans, Louisiana

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Reverend Dr. Ruth Teena Williams describes her family tomb in St. Louis Cemetery No. 2 in New Orleans, Lousiana

Tape: 2 Story: 9 - Reverend Dr. Ruth Teena Williams describes the economic situation of Creole families during her childhood in New Orleans, Louisiana

Tape: 2 Story: 10 - Reverend Dr. Ruth Teena Williams recalls Creole Mardi Gras traditions

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Reverend Dr. Ruth Teena Williams talks about the evolution of Creole identity, pt. 1

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Reverend Dr. Ruth Teena Williams talks about the evolution of Creole identity, pt. 2

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Reverend Dr. Ruth Teena Williams explains how voodoo was incorporated into Creole Roman Catholic religious practice

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Reverend Dr. Ruth Teena Williams remembers Catholic kindergarten at Corpus Christi Church in New Orleans, Louisiana

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Reverend Dr. Ruth Teena Williams recalls Valena C. Jones Elementary School in New Orleans, Louisiana

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Reverend Dr. Ruth Teena Williams describes her family and school life during childhood

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Reverend Dr. Ruth Teena Williams remembers extracurricular activities at McDonogh No. 35 Senior High School in New Orleans, Louisiana

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Reverend Dr. Ruth Teena Williams recalls her time at McDonogh No. 35 Senior High School in New Orleans, Louisiana

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Reverend Dr. Ruth Teena Williams remembers graduating at age nineteen from Xavier University of Louisiana in New Orleans, Louisiana

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Reverend Dr. Ruth Teena Williams recalls experiencing class discrimination at Xavier University in New Orleans, Louisiana

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Reverend Dr. Ruth Teena Williams remembers her ambivalence upon graduating from college in 1947

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Reverend Dr. Ruth Teena Williams recalls initial challenges at St. Louis University School of Social Work in St. Louis, Missouri

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Reverend Dr. Ruth Teena Williams recalls her final year at St. Louis University School of Social Work in St. Louis, Missouri

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Reverend Dr. Ruth Teena Williams describes her social work career in Chicago, Illinois, pt. 1

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Reverend Dr. Ruth Teena Williams describes her social work career in Chicago, Illinois, pt. 2

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Reverend Dr. Ruth Teena Williams remembers her transition to a funerary service career

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Reverend Dr. Ruth Teena Williams remembers her late husband's work with Constant C. Dejoie, Sr. at Unity Mutual Life Insurance Company

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Reverend Dr. Ruth Teena Williams recalls convincing her husband that women can lead, pt. 1

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Reverend Dr. Ruth Teena Williams recalls convincing her husband that women can lead, pt. 2

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Reverend Dr. Ruth Teena Williams talks about experiencing gender discrimination when applying to Chicago Theological Seminary

Tape: 5 Story: 8 - Reverend Dr. Ruth Teena Williams recalls studying for master's and doctoral degrees at Chicago Theological Seminary in Chicago, Illinois

Tape: 6 Story: 1 - Reverend Dr. Ruth Teena Williams remembers experiences at Chicago Theological Seminary in Chicago, Illinois

Tape: 6 Story: 2 - Reverend Dr. Ruth Teena Williams talks about her conversion to the Episcopal Church

Tape: 6 Story: 3 - Reverend Dr. Ruth Teena Williams talks about founding a widows' support group, LARUTH

Tape: 6 Story: 4 - Reverend Dr. Ruth Teena Williams explains widows' experience of isolation

Tape: 6 Story: 5 - Reverend Dr. Ruth Teena Williams describes the necessity of ministers trained in funerary service

Tape: 6 Story: 6 - Reverend Dr. Ruth Teena Williams talks about her current doctoral studies at Chicago Theological Seminary in Chicago, Illinois

Tape: 6 Story: 7 - Reverend Dr. Ruth Teena Williams remembers her call to ordination at her mothers' deathbed in 1987

Tape: 6 Story: 8 - Reverend Dr. Ruth Teena Williams recalls her husbands' death during her journey to ordination

Tape: 6 Story: 9 - Reverend Dr. Ruth Teena Williams remembers her ordination as an Episcopal priest in 1987

Tape: 7 Story: 1 - Reverend Dr. Ruth Teena Williams recalls experiencing gender, age, and racial discrimination early in her career as an Episcopal priest

Tape: 7 Story: 2 - Reverend Dr. Ruth Teena Williams reflects upon discrimination in the Episcopal Church

Tape: 7 Story: 3 - Reverend Dr. Ruth Teena Williams describes her hopes and concerns for the African American community

Tape: 7 Story: 4 - Reverend Dr. Ruth Teena Williams reflects upon her life

Tape: 7 Story: 5 - Reverend Dr. Ruth Teena Williams reflects upon her legacy

Tape: 7 Story: 6 - Reverend Dr. Ruth Teena Williams describes how she would like to be remembered

Tape: 8 Story: 1 - Reverend Dr. Ruth Teena Williams narrates her photographs, pt. 1

Tape: 8 Story: 2 - Reverend Dr. Ruth Teena Williams narrates her photographs, pt. 2

Tape: 8 Story: 3 - Reverend Dr. Ruth Teena Williams narrates her photographs, pt. 3

DASession

1$1

DATape

2$5

DAStory

10$2

DATitle
Reverend Dr. Ruth Teena Williams recalls Creole Mardi Gras traditions
Reverend Dr. Ruth Teena Williams describes her social work career in Chicago, Illinois, pt. 2
Transcript
Now, do you remember Mardi Gras and that sort of thing when you were (simultaneous)--$$(Simultaneous) Oh, yes. Mardi Gras was the big thing (laughter). So important that when I first left home, and I only knew predominantly Roman Catholics, you know. When I first left home, I--it just never occurred to me that there were people who did not know about Mardi Gras. As far as I knew Mardi Gras was celebrated all over the world. Now, mind you, I'm an adult now. And I just never thought about it that way. And so I did not go to work for Mardi Gras, nor did I report in, 'cause I didn't think I had to. I thought everybody took off for Mardi Gras (laughter). And I had the rude awakening that everybody did not know about Mardi Gras, and so--but it was a big day for us, very big day because we had lived through Lent and--I mean we're about to go through Lent. So it starts really, you start celebrating at Christmastime. Everything is very holy, getting ready for the birth of Christ, and then for the New Year, and then right after that, you know Lent is going to come soon. And so you have dances and you have cotillions and you have--so when we would call ourselves poor, but that didn't stop you from being in the cotillion and having a beautiful evening gown and all of the trappings that go with it. So you, you participated in all of these things, and, and that was a big event. And the day of Mardi Gras, everybody got up early. My mother [Louise Cassimere Prudeaux] made a huge, huge, maybe two pots of red beans and rice, and potato salad. These are foods that you can put in the refrigerator and take out. And even before the refrigerator, I can remember the icebox, where you had things in the icebox. And then you can take 'em out and put 'em on the stove. But everything was freshly cooked, but to preserve it so you would not have any spoilage, and you'd have food all day long and not run out. Now, I can't imagine that today. But I can remember as late as my leaving, you know, to go away to graduate school [St. Louis University School of Social Work, St. Louis, Missouri], that my mother never ran out of food, and she would have food--and people could stop in all day long during Mardi Gras. And, but it was mostly like red beans and rice, and sturdy food. And people enjoyed that and looked forward to it, you know. And everybody had a costume of some form or fashion. We didn't buy costumes at the store. You made 'em at home. And you tried to be imaginative. Now, I don't remember us ever being Indians [Native Americans]. There was a group in other areas that were [Mardi Gras] Indians. That was in the area--not the Creole area. The Creoles, to my knowledge, were not Indians. Now, that's another story.$$The black folks would (simultaneous)--$$(Simultaneous) Right, they would dress like Indians.$$The Wild Tchoupitoulas and--$$Right, right.$$Okay.$$And then they had the [Krewe of] Zulu--I don't know when the Zulu parade started, but the Creoles never participated in that either until late years when they started participating.$I didn't know much about narcotic addiction during that period. Before I left there, I learned about it, and I learned about it more from the maternity section where the women, the--that was--and I didn't work on that ward, and I was glad that I didn't have that assignment, 'cause I was staunchly Roman Catholic still, and the discussions of abortion, which was illegal, but all of that was coming up, you know. So I was glad that I didn't have to have that, but as our coworkers, as we talked and shared stories, in the casework meetings, drug addiction came up. And so I learned more about drug addiction through that, not through users, but through babies who got it from their mothers, you know. So that was a very wonderful experience in both the inpatient--that was one of my first efforts, first time being recognized. A story was done in the [Chicago] Sun-Times, I believe it was. I believe that was the paper, and--showing me in one of the wards as--me and my supervisor talking with a patient at the bedside and showing medical workers not just in what people usually think of as a social worker, but in the professional part of social work. That was a nice story. And then another time, I was invited to participate in a radio panel discussing social work and what it meant and the involvement of it. And I was very proud of my, my field then. And I left Cook County Hospital [John H. Stroger Jr. Hospital of Cook County, Chicago, Illinois] and went, I worked for one year as a consultant for the City [of Chicago, Illinois] during the time when they had the city welfare department separate from the state welfare [department]. Then they merged, and I left the system and went to the Veterans Administration. And I worked in the V.A. West Side [Medical Center; Jesse Brown Veterans Administration Medical Center, Chicago, Illinois] in the outpatient department. But my assignment was to work with the quadriplegics and paraplegics of World War II [WWII]. And I had inherited that caseload of about four hundred. And I had only two African Americans in that caseload. All the rest were Caucasians. Many of them incurred their injury not in battle, but rather in--it might have been swimming in London [England] or somewhere and injured their head or something that sort, accidents, but while in service. And they were given everything that they needed, special housing, special automobiles, special everything, you know. That was an interesting experience, but it never measured with County Hospital experience. That was the most wonderful experience in my professional life, most wonderful experience. I really had a sense of helping people, although sometimes it was discouraging 'cause you'd have repeat situations and you--because you were not ongoing. It was while you were in the hospital--while the person was in the hospital or being transferred. Your ongoing relationship was when it was in the clinic, where you had an ongoing relationship.

Father George Clements

The fourth of six children, Father George Clements was born in Chicago, Illinois on January 26, 1932. After attending Catholic elementary and high schools, Clements went on to St. Mary of the Lake Seminary School, first earning a B.A. degree and then an M.A. degree in 1957.

Clements began his ministry in 1957 in the archdiocese of Chicago. He aligned himself with various social causes, especially the Civil Rights Movement. In 1968, while Chicago’s African American Catholics were calling for a black pastor, Clements was in the front running for the position. When the position of pastor was given to Father Rollins Lambert, many in the community were angry, including the Black Panthers, who Clements had served as group chaplain. When parishioners of St. Dorothy’s, Lambert’s former parish, began demanding Clements be appointed pastor, Cardinal John Cody instead placed him under Lambert. Following this, Clements went on a speaking tour at black colleges across the nation. In 1969, he was named pastor of Holy Angels Church, and while there, he harbored many Black Panthers wanted by the police.

Clements is the founder of the One Church-One Child, One Church-One Addict and One Church-One Inmate initiatives. In 1981, he became the first priest to adopt a child, and later adopted three more. His One Church-One Child program subsequently resulted in the adoption of more than 100,000 children nationwide. He has worked to help students from Africa secure higher education in the United States and has been active in the war on drugs. During the Million Man March in 1995, Clements announced plans for the One Church-One Addict program, wherein communities would provide aftercare for individuals who have been incarcerated. More than 1,000 churches in thirty-five states now belong to the program.

Father Clements has been honored by numerous organizations, including the Kentucky State Senate, which issued a resolution praising his deeds. A film starring Lou Gossett, Jr., The Father Clements Story, was produced and broadcast by NBC in 1987.

Accession Number

A2003.043

Sex

Male

Interview Date

3/13/2003 |and| 4/23/2003

Last Name

Clements

Maker Category
Occupation
Organizations
First Name

George

Birth City, State, Country

Chicago

HM ID

CLE01

Favorite Season

Christmas

State

Illinois

Favorite Vacation Destination

Nassau, Bahamas

Favorite Quote

God will provide.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Illinois

Birth Date

1/26/1932

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Chicago

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Catfish

Short Description

Social activist and priest Father George Clements (1932 - ) adopted black children as Rector of the Holy Angels Church and School in Chicago, Illinois.

Employment

Holy Angels Church

Favorite Color

Red

Timing Pairs
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DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of George Clements interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - George Clements lists his favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - George Clements remembers his mother and shares her family background

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - George Clements describes his father's background

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - George Clements shares memories from his family life

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - George Clements recalls his childhood environs, Chicago, Illinois

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - George Clements describes his family values

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - George Clements remembers an influential teacher

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - George Clements recalls his experience at Archbishop Quigley Prepatory Seminary, Chicago, Illinois

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - George Clements recalls a racist encounter in his early seminary years

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - George Clements shares reflections on attending Archbishop Quigley Prepatory Seminary, Chicago, Illinois

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - George Clements describes his experience at the University of Saint Mary of the Lake's Mundelein Seminary, Mundelein, Illinois

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - George Clements reviews information on the priesthood

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - George Clements shares memories of Saint Ambrose Church, Chicago, Illinois

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - George Clements remembers his ordination

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - George Clements shares early memories from the priesthood

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - George Clements recalls radical changes in Chicago churches, 1960s

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - George Clements recalls raising funds for Holy Angels Church, Chicago, Illinois

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - George Clements describes his involvement with the Blackstone Rangers gang and the Black Panther Party

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - George Clements recalls his thiry-two year career at the Holy Angels Church, Chicago, Illinois

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - George Clements remembers Cardinal John Cody

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - George Clements criticizes Chicago's Mayor Richard J. Daley

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - George Clements shares reflections on the Black Catholic Church

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - George Clements details how he became an adoptive father

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - George Clements details his involvement with Chicago's Afro-American Police League

Tape: 4 Story: 9 - George Clements discusses his One Church, One Addict and One Church, One Inmate initiatives

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Second slating of George Clements interview

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - George Clements details his involvement with Chicago's Afro-American Patrolman's League

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - George Clements remembers Renault Robinson

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - George Clements describes Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.'s assassination as life-altering

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - George Clements remembers priests involved in the Civil Rights Movement

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - George Clements describes his relationship with John Cardinal Cody

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - George Clements confronts racism in the Catholic Church

Tape: 6 Story: 1 - George Clements reflects on Catholicism and issues of race

Tape: 6 Story: 2 - George Clements discusses sexual abuse in the Catholic Church

Tape: 6 Story: 3 - George Clements details the development of the One Church, One Family initiative

Tape: 6 Story: 4 - George Clements shares reflections on fatherhood

Tape: 6 Story: 5 - George Clements discusses 'The Father Clements Story,' a made-for-television movie

Tape: 6 Story: 6 - George Clements recalls re-building Holy Angels Church, Chicago, Illinois

Tape: 7 Story: 1 - George Clements explains his advocacy efforts

Tape: 7 Story: 2 - George Clements discusses the early development of his son, Joey

Tape: 7 Story: 3 - George Clements discusses Minister Louis Farrakhan

Tape: 7 Story: 4 - George Clements remembers Dick Gregory

Tape: 7 Story: 5 - George Clements considers his legacy

DASession

1$1

DATape

6$2

DAStory

6$3

DATitle
George Clements recalls re-building Holy Angels Church, Chicago, Illinois
George Clements remembers an influential teacher
Transcript
Now when the church, you know, burned down, was that--what, how did you--I mean that was--?$$I, my whole world crumbled. I just--that was something that was never in the equation as far as I was concerned; never in my wildest dreams did I think that Holy Angels Church would ever not be there. For one thing, it was really an architectural gem, you know. It was a church that seated over 2,400 people cause it had a double balcony, you know, it was huge, Greco-Romanist edifice. And when that thing was put up by those Irish, they--it was built to last forever, you know. So I just could not fathom that it had happened, but I also realized that if I did not rebuild it, in all likelihood that whole parish would just evaporate because at that time--kind of ironic when you think about it today, at that time, that was the most--that was the lowest socio-economic area of Chicago. That was the pits. I mean down there, nobody wanted to go down, down there, you know, Ida B. Wells, Robert Taylor, Stateway Gardens, Washington Park Homes, Darryl Homes and all that, you know. We were surrounded by all these housing projects, all these gangs, Black Stones Rangers, Conservative Vice Lords, all, all of this stuff--Jeff Fort, that whole bit, you know. And it was somewhere that you wanted to be away from, you know, and not that you wanted to be at. And so I just really felt that if we did not do it, it was not gonna be done because the diocese wasn't gonna put any church up there, and, and with the--the school was in tact. And the school was still going strong, so I just decided well, and that's what we got to do. We got to use the mechanism of the school to rebuild the church.$$Did the building either test you or exhaust you or--?$$It exhausted, drained me. I have no experience in my life that drained me like that because it was so demeaning, you know, to go to these people, and begging for money, constantly begging, people run when they see you, you know, and, oh, here comes Father Clements again. You know, going to all these different organizations and groups and foundations and just begging, begging, begging all the time. And that's why when it was--January, I mean I'm sorry, June 9, 1991 was emancipation day for me, freedom. What did Dr. King [Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr.] free at last, free at last (laughter). We dedicated that church. I got up in that pulpit, and I said, "You got a wonderful, beautiful church, a church that has made the Guinness Book of Records. It's the first church in the world to be heated and air conditioned with solar energy. Bye." And I left.$$Was the congregation, were they, were they surprised, you think, or did they--?$$They were shocked, they were shocked. Not just the congregation, but a lot of people in Chicago, cause they felt like I was one of these emperors, you know, and now I've built my Taj Mahal or whatever and, and so I'm gonna sit on it and glory in it, you know, sit on my laurels, you know, and, and all that. And that was not the--'cause they'd, many--oh, that was one of the things people said, "Oh, you just doing that to, cause you're glorifying yourself, that's all--you, you're doing that out of self satisfaction cause you want, you want to be able to say that you're the pastor of this grand", and I, and I kept telling them that wasn't true. Nobody believed me. They believed when I said, "Bye," cause he thought I would be there for the rest of my life.$First, Corpus Christi [Elementary School, Chicago, Illinois]. When you were there, were there any particular teachers that influenced you?$$Yeah. My seventh grade teacher. Sister Mary Felician (ph.) She took a real liking to me. She was in charge of the altar boys. And she made me the head of the altar boys. And she was just a very, very kind person who would always tell us about how important we were. And she would even go down the line and say, "Now you're gonna be the governor. And you're gonna be the mayor of Chicago. And you're gonna be a movie star," and all this, you know. She'd do all that stuff. And, you know, 'cause we--just made us feel like we were on top of the world. And when some kid did something that he shouldn't do, she would--tears would come. And oh, we would be so angry with that kid. You know. She wouldn't hit him or anything. But she would just--she was so disappointed. And there were some guys in the class who would actually grab that kid. And when he got outside he'd kick his butt. 'cause, you know, "You did that to Sister Felician, you know how she is, you know. We don't play that shit in here," (laughs). You know. And she was just a very, very interesting lady. Then she told me. towards the end of the year, before I was going into eighth grade she said, "You're gonna become a priest." And I said, "Yeah? You think so?" She said, "Yeah." I said, "Oh great." So then I got in eighth grade and she was making all these plans and everything. And then all of a sudden I couldn't see her. She would--every time I'd see her and I'd call her, she was always busy. She didn't have any time for me and I couldn't figure what had happened. So then I graduated from eighth grade and as I said, I found out later about Quigley. Because these--they were Franciscan priests at Corpus Christi. And of course, I did--those were the only priests I knew. So, I figured I'd become a Franciscan. I had been at Quigley [Seminary] about two years and I'd talked to a priest about it, about Sister Felician. And he got all serious. And his face got all drawn and everything. And he said, "I know what happened", I said, "What?" He said, "The Franciscans do not accept blacks," or coloreds or whatever it was he said. And he said--and that's what happened with her. And I didn't believe him. I said, "Oh I don't, I don't think you know what you're talking about, Father." And I went to Sister Felician and she started crying and everything. And she said, "Yeah, that's what happened, George. That's exactly what happened." She said, "And I didn't know how to tell you." You know.$$But she's the one who influenced you though?$$Mm-hm.$$And do you think--You know, you said you like all the ceremony. You know, and--right? Didn't you say, you know, that that's what you liked about you know (unclear)--?$$I liked more than the ceremony, I like the fact that the priests helped people. That they were there for us. They weren't off somewhere. They would come into the neighborhoods. They would see to it that--somebody died they were right there and they were--They were always around and being helpful and I liked that. I liked that very, very much. And I wanted to imitate them. That's the reason I became a priest because of the good example of those priests that were there at Corpus Christi.

Father Richard L. Tolliver

Father Richard L. Tolliver served as the rector of St. Edmund's Episcopal Church in Chicago, located on the city's South Side in the Washington Park neighborhood. A native of Springfield, Ohio, Tolliver held degrees from several institutions, including a B.A. degree in religion from Miami University in Oxford, Ohio; a master of divinity degree from the Episcopal Divinity School in Cambridge, Massachusetts; M.A. degrees in political science and Afro-American studies from Boston University; and a Ph.D. in political science from Howard University in Washington, D.C.

Tolliver became an ordained Episcopal priest in December 1971; after his ordination, he served as a rector for St. Cyprian's Church in Boston and St. Timothy's Church in Washington, D.C., and was a curate for St. Philip's Church in New York, New York. Tolliver also served as an associate country director of the U.S. Peace Corps in Kenya, and as a Peace Corps country director in Mauritania.

After his time in the Peace Corps, Tolliver took a position as a professor at Howard University. In June 1989, Tolliver became the rector at St. Edmund's Church; the church, which was established in 1905 to serve a congregation of largely Greek and Irish heritage, had become a largely African American congregation by the 1920s, serving the city's black middle- and upper-middle class families. At the time of his arrival, St. Edmund's suffered from financial problems and a surrounding neighborhood in decay. Tolliver formed the St. Edmund's Redevelopment Corporation (SERC) in 1990, which was designed to buy and rehabilitate multifamily buildings. Tolliver also organized the Michigan Avenue/Indiana Block Club, which was comprised of St. Edmund's parishioners who worked to reduce criminal activity in the church's surrounding neighborhood. The Michigan Avenue/Indiana Block Club also worked in conjunction with the Chicago Police Department's Chicago Alternative Policing Strategy. St. Edmund's also opened the International Charter School - St. Edmund's Campus on June 30, 2000, with an enrollment of 150 students in kindergarten through fifth grade.

Under the auspices of Tolliver and the SERC, more than 455 housing units were rebuilt; crime has also decreased sharply in the area since 1993. Tolliver's accomplishments have been featured in several publications, such as Business Week and Ebony; he received numerous honors and awards, including being listed in Who's Who of Black Americans , and being a regional finalist for a White House Fellowship.

Accession Number

A2003.030

Sex

Male

Interview Date

2/19/2003

Last Name

Tolliver

Maker Category
Middle Name

L.

Occupation
Organizations
Schools

Fulton Elementary School

Springfield South High School

Miami University

Harvard Divinity School

Boston University

Springfield High School

Howard University

Speakers Bureau

No

First Name

Richard

Birth City, State, Country

Springfield

HM ID

TOL01

Favorite Season

Summer

State

Ohio

Favorite Vacation Destination

Beaches

Favorite Quote

None

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Illinois

Birth Date

6/26/1945

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Chicago

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Chicken

Short Description

Priest Father Richard L. Tolliver (1945 - ) was the rector of St. Edmund's Episcopal Church in Chicago. In addition to his work within the church, Tolliver was also a major force in rebuilding the surrounding community of his parishioners, and improving living and social conditions.

Employment

St. Phillip's Church

St. Cyprian's Church (Boston, Massachusetts)

St. Timothy's Church, Washington, DC

United States Peace Corps

St. Edmund's Episcopal Church

Favorite Color

Beige

Timing Pairs
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DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Richard Tolliver interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Richard Tolliver's favorites and completion of slating

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Richard Tolliver talks about his ancestors and the origin of his surname

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Richard Tolliver talks about his father's background

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Richard Tolliver discusses his mother's background and her career

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Richard Tolliver recalls growing up in the segregated town of Springfield, Ohio

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Richard Tolliver talks briefly about his father

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Richard Tolliver shares memories from his childhood in Springfield, Ohio

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Richard Tolliver recalls his years in grade school and junior high school

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Richard Tolliver remembers his high school experiences

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Richard Tolliver discusses his college choice

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Richard Tolliver describes experiencing racism while attending college

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Richard Tolliver describes his social activism while in college

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Richard Tolliver shares a story from his college years, Part 1

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Richard Tolliver shares a story from his college years, Part 2

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Richard Tolliver discusses his decision to become an Episcopalian minister

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Richard Tolliver recalls the events in Washington, D.C. following the assassination of Dr. King.

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Richard Tolliver talks about his experiences at Harvard Divinity School

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Richard Tolliver remembers his mentors at Harvard

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Richard Tolliver recalls encounters with his mentor, Dr. Benjamin Mays

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Richard Tolliver talks about other religious figures who have influenced him

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Richard Tolliver discusses the early treatment of blacks in the Episcopalian Church, Part 1

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Richard Tolliver discusses the early treatment of blacks in the Episcopalian Church, Part 2

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Richard Tolliver talks about blacks as part of the Episcopal Church leadership

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Richard Tolliver explains the hierarchy of the Episcopalian and Anglican leadership, Part 1

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Richard Tolliver explains the hierarchy of the Episcopalian and Anglican leadership, Part 2

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Richard Tolliver details his experiences working for the Peace Corps in Kenya

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Richard Tolliver details his time in Mauritania working for the Peace Corps

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Richard Tolliver comments on American paternalism abroad

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Richard Tolliver talks about his experience in Papua New Guinea, part 1

Tape: 6 Story: 1 - Richard Tolliver talks about his experience in Papua New Guinea, part 2

Tape: 6 Story: 2 - Richard Tolliver explains how he became Rector of St. Edmund's Episcopal Church

Tape: 6 Story: 3 - Richard Tolliver details the history of St. Edmund's Episcopal Church and its community outreach projects

Tape: 6 Story: 4 - Richard Tolliver talks about the aesthetic features of St. Edmund's Episcopal Church

Tape: 6 Story: 5 - Richard Tolliver reflects on the most satisfying aspects of his job

Tape: 7 Story: 1 - Richard Tolliver gives his views about the black church

Tape: 7 Story: 2 - Richard Tolliver comments on his religious philosophy

Tape: 7 Story: 3 - Richard Tolliver talks about his concerns for the African American community

Tape: 7 Story: 4 - Richard Tolliver evaluates his past decisions

Tape: 7 Story: 5 - Richard Tolliver discusses homosexuality in relation to the Episcopal Church

Tape: 7 Story: 6 - Richard Tolliver comments on his legacy and how he would like to be remembered

DASession

1$1

DATape

3$6

DAStory

2$3

DATitle
Richard Tolliver discusses his decision to become an Episcopalian minister
Richard Tolliver details the history of St. Edmund's Episcopal Church and its community outreach projects
Transcript
Were there any particular teachers that stood out, other than the Dean, what's his name, Dean--$$Strippel.$$Strippel, yeah.$$Not really. No teachers that stick out. I, one pivotal thing happened while I was at Miami [University, Oxford, Ohio], and that was, that's where I became an Episcopalian. My freshman year I went, I walked to the black Baptist church, which was in the black area of Oxford, which was the opposite side of town from my dorm. And at Miami, students couldn't have cars so we had to walk. And the preacher preached very long and it was incomprehensible. And that was not my experience growing up in the Baptist church. My grandfather was not a long preacher, and he was coherent. And so I stopped--oh, the problem became by the time the service was out, and I walked back to the dorm, the dining room was closed. So I was missing lunch. So I decided well, I'm not going to church. And I didn't for the rest of my freshman year. My sophomore year, when I was a resident advisor, RA, as they called it, a white guy in the dorm asked me if I wanted to go to church with him one Sunday. So I said, "Yeah," I didn't know where he was going. And it just happened to be an Episcopal church. And this was my first experience in an Episcopal church. And I immediately was impressed, for at least three reasons: I liked the ritual. I liked the fact that nobody dressed up, you know. It was, it was the era of nonconformism and being a campus town, you know, you wore your jeans and, and shirt or turtleneck, whatever you wore, those desert boots in those days. And that was fine. It was also a place where they were having a lot of discussions on contemporary issues. And at that time, the issue was the Vietnam War. And they were organizing a march through Oxford, along with some other groups against the war. And my experience of church had not been any of the three. So, and the sermon was more intellectual, and it was short. So all of the above appealed to me. And I started going to church there. It was an overwhelmingly white church, but I was made to feel welcome. And it was during that time that I decided that, well, this is--I like this, and this is the church I want to join, the denomination I want to be a part of. And I became an Episcopalian.$$Now, how did your grandfather react to that?$$Well, my mother came to Oxford for my confirmation when the bishop came. And we decided not to tell him immediately, but eventually we did, probably a year later or so. And he didn't react at all, not negatively at all. And then my senior year, I told him I wanted to talk to him. And I said, I think--no, we didn't tell him until this experience I'm getting ready to tell you now. My senior year, I went home, and I said, "I want to talk to you." And I said, "I'm thinking about going to the seminary." And his comment was--I'll never forget, he says, "Well, I've known all along that you were gonna wear a robe. We were just waiting for you to find that out." And then I said, "But I'm not going to the Baptist ministry. I'm an Episcopalian now." And he said, "Well, as long as you're serving God, that's what matters most." And then I said, "But I don't know"--I said, "I'm thinking about going to seminary, but I don't know if I can really take the ministry because I've seen how people talked about you and grandma over the years. And I don't know if I can handle it." And without a moment's hesitation, he said, "They talked about Jesus, so what makes you think they not gonna talk about you." He said, "Now, the day you decide to do something with your life, be prepared to be talked about. If you don't want to be talked about, then don't do anything with your life. That's your decision." And that's all he said.$$Okay, so he was all right with that?$$Yeah.$And has, you know, experienced a lot of problems. Right across the street is a--well, it used to be a housing project.$$Well, in 19--let me say this, from the mid-1920s to the early '60s [1960s], this [Washington Park, Chicago, Illinois] was the black middle-class area of the city. St. Edmund's [Episcopal] Church [Chicago, Illinois] was founded in 1905 as a white congregation. And they built their first building, and they were founded on State Street at about Wabash [Avenue]. But they built their first building in 1906, which still stands today in the 5800 Block of South Indiana Avenue. It's an African Orthodox Church now. It grew out of the Garvey Movement. In 1928, the Bishop sent the first black clergymen there, and said I send you--it was an Irish and a Greek neighborhood. And the Bishop sent the first clergyman there, and said I send you to a building with no people. Forty-two years later in 1970, he retired as the Rector of St. Edmund's Church. They bought this building, which was a former Greek Orthodox Church, built in 1927. They bought this building in 1948 because they had outgrown that building. When he retired in 1970, this was the largest parish in the entire Episcopal diocese, bar none, with over 2,000 active communicants. In 1970, there were 90,000 within a half--living within a half mile radius of this church. In 1990, there were 19,000. So the neighborhood lost 70,000 people over a twenty-year period. This was known as a very bourgeois congregation, with many of the movers and shakers of Chicago--$$Black community.$$--black community attended.$$Newspaper columnists, TV figures, doctors.$$If you've read Lawrence Otis Graham's book, 'Our Kind of People', he mentioned St. Edmund's often. And, and I'm particularly impressed; I look at the vestry, the board of directors in the 1920s. And everybody on there was a doctor or a lawyer. So that's the kind of place it was. But by 1989, the neighborhood had deteriorated. The members had moved out of the neighborhood or died. This building was in shambles. And so we redefined our--and some of the other congregations that were around here had moved to other neighborhoods. The public housing was occupied at the time. Part of what brought down the neighborhood, beginning the late '60s [1960s], there was an overly concentration of new construction of public housing in the neighborhood. At some point, they built the el [elevated train] that runs through the neighborhood, that disrupted. And anytime you build an el you see housing start to deteriorate on each side of it. At some point in the '50s [1950s], they built [Interstate Highway] 90/94. So all those things. When I came here, there was an entranceway to the [Chicago] Skyway, pay road to Gary [Indiana], right at 63rd [Street] and Michigan [Avenue]. There was an exit ramp at 63rd and Indiana. All that disrupted the neighborhood. And with the overly concentration of public housing and with more neighborhoods opening up to blacks, middle-class people moved. We reoriented ourselves, redefined our mission and decided in addition to re-establishing a vibrant ministry, we would have outreach efforts of three different components, housing, renew the housing stock. This church had had a school from 1948 'til 1988, of which to this day, many leaders in Chicago's African American community graduated from it--the parochial school. We re-established our educational mission. And we would address the issue of neighborhood security. So in 1990, the vestry, the board of directors formed a separate legal entity to revitalize the housing stock, which we call St. Edmund's Redevelopment Corporation. To date, we have built or rehabbed $43 million in housing since our first effort in 1992. We own fourteen buildings, 455 units of housing. Our biggest effort is in the highrise at 63rd and Michigan [Avenue], which was, with acquisition and rehab, was $18.5 million. Before we acquired that twenty-three storey, twenty-four storey, 230-unit building, the gangs ran it, anarchy reigned there. We've completely turned it around. In March of 2003, after two--ten years of negotiating with various administrations of the Chicago Housing Authority, we would purchase the public housing across the street that's now abandoned. It's not abandoned; the residents have been relocated, and turn that into a mixed-income development. Those will be townhouses that any of us would be proud to live in. It'll be a nine million dollar job, they'll be Internet wired. It'll be amazing, what you're gonna see over there after fourteen months, peaked roofs, balconies, wrought-iron fences, play areas, DSL, security cameras, operated by DSL, monitored from our highrise at 63rd and Michigan. We will build thirty-three rental townhouses on some vacant land, and we're acquiring fifty lots to build for sale homes. So that's our housing effort. We re-established the school [St. Edmund's Academy, Chicago, Illinois]. Now, there're 340 kids in grades K [kindergarten] through 6th. It's a charter school. We, we opened as a private school that was tuition driven on a sliding-fee scale. We closed that and were fortunate enough to get a charter school, which allowed us to significantly up the enrollment and do away with tuition. And the security piece is addressed, we formed a neighborhood civic association, West Washington Park Residents Association. It's had a number of names since its founding. When we first started, we were called Michigan-Indiana Avenue Block Club, and then they realized that residents live in about fourteen different blocks. So a couple of years ago, they changed the name to West Washington Park Residents' Block Club, and then now there are some other clubs that have started in the neighborhood. But we were it for a while. The church--we've spent over two million dollars renovating this building that I've had to raise, we still have a metropolitan congregation. And we're attracting new members, most of whom are very highly professional people. And it's a daily struggle, but it's a, it's a good one.