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Kathryn Lofton

pastor of the historic Abyssinian Baptist Church in Harlem, New York, and president of the State University of New York College at Old Westbury. From the pastoral post long held by Congressman Adam Clayton Powell Jr. (1908–1972), Calvin Otis Butts III developed a model of financial revitalization mirrored by other late-twentieth-century black churches struggling to sustain their communities and retain political influence in the post–civil rights era.

Born in New York City and educated at Morehouse College, Union Theological Seminary, and Drew University, Butts began his career in 1972 as associate pastor of Abyssinian. Upon being named head pastor in 1989 Butts consolidated the economic interests of his church into the Abyssinian Development Corporation ADC which has managed more than $300 million in housing and commercial development in Harlem as well as several social service operations including a transitional shelter a family services program and a tenant ...

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Alonford James Robinson

After graduating from high school in 1967, Calvin Butts earned a bachelor's degree from Morehouse College in 1971. He received a Master's in Divinity from Union Theological Seminary in 1975, and a Doctorate of Ministry from Drew Theological School in 1982.

After seventeen years as an assistant and executive minister at Harlem's legendary Abyssinian Baptist Church, Butts was named pastor of the 5,000-member congregation in 1989. His sermons and activities have commanded national attention. He has spoken out publicly against police brutality, so-called gangsta Rap music, and the targeting of African American consumers by cigarette and alcohol manufacturers. In the 1980s Butts was criticized by both blacks and whites for refusing to denounce what some believe to be anti-Semitic preaching by Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan.

Reverend Butts has continued to challenge policies he perceives to be detrimental to the African American ...

Article

Sholomo B. Levy

minister and activist, was born on the Lower East Side of New York. His father was a chef, and his mother was an administrator of welfare services. Both had migrated from rural Georgia to the city in hopes of making a better life for themselves and their family. As a young boy, Calvin recalled visiting the church he would one day lead, the Abyssinian Baptist Church in Harlem, where he was mesmerized by the Reverend Adam Clayton Powell Jr. a figure who seemed to speak from the pulpit of that Gothic sanctuary with a voice of thunder When Calvin was eight the family left their low income housing development in Manhattan for a black suburb in Queens From there Calvin was bused over the protests of white parents to a junior high school in the upscale Forest Hills section of Queens Calvin adjusted well to this experiment in forced ...

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Sholomo B. Levy

minister, educator, and humanitarian, was born in Norfolk, Virginia, the son of Hughes Proctor, who worked at the Norfolk Navy Yard, and Velma Gladys. His parents had met as students at Norfolk Mission College, the same college attended by Velma's parents; Hughes's mother had attended Hampton Institute during Reconstruction. It was unusual for a black family to have such educated parents and grandparents so soon after slavery, and Samuel and his six siblings were raised to believe that educational attainment was natural and expected. Music and religious devotion also helped shape Samuel's childhood. His father played the violin, he played the clarinet, and the other children were each encouraged to learn an instrument. They entertained themselves at home, and they all sang in the choir of the Baptist church founded by his great-grandfather Zechariah Hughes.

As a boy Samuel shined shoes at local barbershops one ...