An influential Chicago minister and politician, Archibald Carey maintained a close relationship with Martin Luther King, Jr. In 1957, Carey visited the King home while participating in the Montgomery Improvement Association’s annual Institute on Nonviolence and Social Change.
Carey was born in Chicago in 1908, the son and grandson of ministers. He received degrees from Northwestern University’s Garrett Biblical Institute and Chicago-Kent College of Law. During his professional life he wore many hats: lawyer, bank president, politician, judge, and minister. He was pastor of Woodlawn AME Church in Chicago from 1930-1949 before moving to Quinn Chapel AME Church, Chicago’s second oldest Protestant church, where he served until 1967. Carey also served as Republican alderman of Chicago’s 3rd Ward (1947-1955) and an alternate member of the United States delegation to the Eighth General Assembly of the United Nations in 1953. In 1955 President Dwight Eisenhower appointed Carey vice-chair and, later, chairman of the President’s Committee on Government Employment Policy. By 1966, Carey had changed his party affiliation to Democrat and was elected as a circuit court judge in Cook County, Illinois, a position he held at the time of his death in April 1981.
During the Montgomery bus boycott, King enlisted Carey’s aid by appointing him chairman of a Chicago committee that was asked to inform the headquarters of Montgomery’s bus company of the concerns of black Montgomery residents. During April 1956, Carey also helped organize an “Hour of Prayer” in Chicago that raised $2,500 for the MIA.
King’s “I Have a Dream” address at the 1963 March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom may have been influenced by Carey’s address at the 1952 Republican National Convention in Chicago, which concluded: “…from every mountain side, let freedom ring. Not only from the Green Mountains and the 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 Great Smokies of Tennessee and from the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia…” (Carey, Address to the Republican National Convention, 8 July 1952).
Carey, Address to the Republican National Convention, 8 July 1952, AJC-ICHi.
King, "I Have A Dream," 28 August 1963.
King to Carey, 27 December 1955, in Papers 3:93-95.