Archibald Carey, Jr.

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Archibald James Carey, Jr. (February 29, 1908 – April 20, 1981) was an American lawyer, judge, politician, diplomat and clergyman from the south side of Chicago. He was elected as a city alderman and served for eight years under the patronage of the politician William L. Dawson. He served for several years as a pastor in the African Methodist Episcopal (AME) Church, when he became known as a civil rights activist. In 1957 he was appointed by President Dwight D. Eisenhower as chair of his committee on government employment policy, working to reduce racial discrimination.

Appointed to the Circuit Court of Cook County, Illinois in 1966, Judge Carey became a major figure in Chicago's political life, serving until 1979. He won numerous awards for his oratorical skills and contributions to civic improvement.

Early life and education

The youngest of five children born to the Reverend Archibald J. Carey, a minister of the African Methodist Episcopal Church, and his wife, Elizabeth H. (Davis) Carey, Carey, Jr. was a native of Chicago. He attended Wendell Phillips High School. He received a Bachelor of Science degree from Lewis Institute (now Illinois Institute of Technology) in 1928, as well as a Bachelor of Divinity degree from Northwestern University in 1932, and a Bachelor of Laws degree from Chicago-Kent College of Law in Chicago in 1935.


After being accepted to the bar, Carey set up a practice in Chicago. He became politically active and allied with William L. Dawson, a leading African-American politician on the city's South Side. Carey was twice elected to serve as an alderman from Chicago's Third Ward, serving from 1947 to 1955. During this time, he was chosen to give a speech to the 1952 Republican National Convention, which met that year in Chicago, and called for equal rights for all minorities.[1]

The following year, Carey was appointed as an alternate delegate from the United States to the United Nations, serving from 1953 to 1956. From 1955 to 1961, he served on the President's Committee on Government Employment Policy; on August 3, 1957, he was appointed by President Dwight D. Eisenhower as Chair of the committee, succeeding Maxwell Abbell, who died.[2] Carey was the first African American to hold this position. Already a confidante of Martin Luther King, Jr. and active in the national civil rights movement, Carey worked to end employment discrimination in the government against blacks.[3]

Carey was appointed as a county Circuit Court judge in Chicago in 1966. He served until 1978, when he was forced by law to retire from the bench at 70 years of age. Because of the court's large caseload, he was reappointed to serve another year.

AME Church

In 1949, Carey was named as pastor of his father's church, Quinn Chapel AME Church in Chicago. He served through 1967, when he was named pastor emeritus.

In 1960 Carey addressed the World Methodist Council held in Oslo, Norway that year, discussing how AME activists in the United States drew from Wesleyan theology and praxis in their approach. He noted that they were inspired by the work of Richard Allen, the founder and first bishop of the AME Church. He was among numerous AME clergy and members who were active in the civil rights movement, but the institution as a whole at the time did not strongly embrace activism.[4]


Archibald J. Carey, Jr. was married to Hazel Harper. They had a daughter, Carolyn Eloise. Grandchildren: Renee, Jennifer, Nicole, William, Archibald James, Christopher

He died on April 20, 1981 in Chicago. [5]

"Let Freedom Ring"

The following is an excerpt from the end of Carey's speech to the 1952 Republican National Convention.

We, Negro Americans, sing with all loyal Americans: "My country 'tis of thee,/Sweet land of liberty,/Of thee I sing./Land where my fathers died,/ Land of the Pilgrims' pride,/From every mountainside,/Let freedom ring!" That's exactly what we mean—from every mountain side, let freedom ring. Not only from the Green Mountains and White Mountains of Vermont and New Hampshire; not only from the Catskills of New York; but from the Ozarks in Arkansas, from the Stone Mountain in Georgia, from the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia—let it ring not only for the minorities of the United States, but for the persecuted of Europe, for the rejected of Asia, disfranchised of South Africa and for the disinherited of all the earth—may the Republican Party, under God, from every mountainside, "LET FREEDOM RING."[6]

The historian D. D. Hansen notes that some critics suggest that Martin Luther King, Jr. plagiarized from this speech in creating his own celebrated "I have a dream" speech, while others disagree, noting that many of the motifs and tropes were part of a common language.[7] (For further information, see Martin Luther King, Jr. authorship issues.)


  1. Hansen, D, D. (2003). The Dream: Martin Luther King, Jr., and the Speech that Inspired a Nation. New York, NY: Harper Collins. p. 108.
  2. "Maxwell Abbell, 55, American Jewish Leader Dead; Was Close to Eisenhower," originally published (New York) Times,July 10, 1957, found at
  3. Dennis C. Dickerson, "The Wesleyan Witness in the US Civil Rights Movement: The Allen Legacy against 20th Century American Apartheid", 2007 paper, accessed 13 May 2012
  4. Dickerson (2007), "Wesleyan Witness", p. 1
  5. Grand-daughter Renee
  6. Hansen, D, D. (2003), The Dream, p. 108
  7. Hansen, D, D. (2003), The Dream, p. 108

Further reading

  • William J. Grimshaw, Bitter Fruit: Black Politics and the Chicago Machine, 1931–1991, University Of Chicago Press (1992) ISBN 978-0-226-30893-7