African-American Religious Leaders by Nathan Aaseng

By Nathan Aaseng

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It’s time to move from hope to making what we hoped about and dreamed about real,” he said. Butts began to spend more time building alliances rather than denouncing politicians and businesspeople. He quietly engaged in behind-the-scenes deal-making to bring millions of dollars’ worth of economic development into Harlem. He helped create and operate the Abyssinian Development Corporation, which invested more than $65 million in neighborhood restoration, renovation, and commercial development. This strategy even led him to seek alternatives to the Democratic Party, which, although the traditional supporter of black progress, appeared to him to be taking black support for granted.

Since that time, the congregation has swelled to the point where it boasts a membership of nearly 24,000 members, and has gained some notice for attracting celebrity members such as basketball star Earvin “Magic” Johnson and actor Denzel Washington. It developed a widely respected choir and initiated more than 80 Boyd, Merle 23 programs, ranging from HIV awareness to crisis counseling, which were led by more than 200 fulltime staff members. In 2001, the congregation moved from its outgrown facilities to a spacious new sanctuary capable of seating 5,000 people.

After spending a year in Philadelphia working as an editorial assistant, she returned to Washington to apply for a government job as a clerk. Although she achieved a high score on the civil service exam, she was told there were no openings for “colored” women. Burroughs ended up in Louisville, Kentucky, working as a secretary for the Foreign Mission Board of the National Baptist Convention. An inspiring speaker, Burroughs made a deep impression on members of the National Baptist Convention with an address at their annual meeting.

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