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Bishop Arthur Brazier

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

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

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

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

Accession Number

A2005.003

Sex

Male

Interview Date

1/7/2005

Last Name

Brazier

Maker Category
Middle Name

Monroe

Occupation
Schools

Wendell Phillips Academy High School

Frances E. Willard Elementary School

John J. Pershing West Middle School

First Name

Arthur

Birth City, State, Country

Chicago

HM ID

BRA05

Favorite Season

Summer

State

Illinois

Favorite Vacation Destination

Paris, France

Favorite Quote

Praise The Lord.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Illinois

Birth Date

7/22/1921

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Chicago

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Linguine, Shrimp

Death Date

10/22/2010

Short Description

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

Employment

Apostolic Church of God

Favorite Color

Brown

Timing Pairs
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DAStories

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

DASession

1$1

DATape

3$4

DAStory

8$2

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