African American Preachers and PoliticsThe Careys of Chicago

African American Preachers and PoliticsThe Careys of Chicago

Dennis C. Dickerson

Print publication date: 2014

ISBN: 9781604734270

Publisher: University Press of Mississippi


During most of the twentieth century, Archibald J. Carey Sr. (1868–1931) and Archibald J. Carey Jr. (1908–1981), father and son, exemplified a blend of ministry and politics that many African American religious leaders pursued. Their sacred and secular concerns merged in efforts to improve the spiritual and material well-being of their congregations. But as political alliances became necessary, both wrestled with moral consequences and varied outcomes. Both were ministers to Chicago’s largest African Methodist Episcopal Church congregations—the senior Carey as a bishop, and the junior Carey as a pastor and an attorney. Bishop Carey associated himself mainly with Chicago mayor William Hale Thompson, a Republican, whom he presented to black voters as an ally. When the mayor appointed Carey Sr. to the city’s civil service commission, Carey Sr. helped in the hiring and promotion of local blacks. But alleged impropriety for selling jobs marred the bishop’s tenure. Carey Jr., also a Republican and an alderman, became head of the panel on anti-discrimination in employment for the Eisenhower administration, and aided innumerable black federal employees. Although an influential benefactor of CORE and SCLC, he associated with notorious FBI director J. Edgar Hoover and compromised support for Martin Luther King, Jr. Both Careys believed politics offered clergy the best opportunities to empower the black population. Their imperfect alliances and mixed results, however, proved the complexity of combining the realms of spirituality and politics.