Reverend Cecil L. "Chip" Murray will discuss his legacy as a spiritual and community leader, chronicling his inspirations as well as the challenges that have shaped his life and ministry. His insights into the legacy of the Civil Rights era and socially engaged Christianity provide timely instruction to new generations, ensuring the American dream of equality and justice for all is not forgotten.
About Reverend Cecil L. "Chip" Murray
Raised in a middle class black neighborhood in West Palm Beach, Florida, Rev. Dr. Cecil L. “Chip” Murray grew up in the midst of the Civil Rights Movement, experiencing first-hand the racism in the South.
Following his graduation from Florida A & M University, Murray entered the Air Force with the intention of fostering a career. However, his interests changed when a plane he was in caught fire, killing the pilot and nearly taking Murray’s life as well.
Soon thereafter, he graduated from the School of Theology at Claremont. Murray held many posts at various churches, helping to expand the congregations as well as championing many community-minded focus groups.
In 1977, Murray transferred to Los Angeles and took the helm at the First African Methodist Episcopal Church (FAME). He added gospel to the church music, started the Richard Allen Men’s Society (an association involved in the fight against drugs, as well as mentoring fatherless children), and gave the church an inviting, black-oriented identity that helped it flourish.
Murray spent 27 years as FAME’s pastor, transforming a congregation of 250 into an 18,000 person church with multi-million dollar community and economic development programs that have brought jobs, housing, and corporate investment into many South Los Angeles neighborhoods. During his tenure, Murray became known for his uncompromising honesty; he often voiced his concern for those affected by racial tension, and he advocated for peace in the midst of conflicts, such as the Rodney King riots. Murray dedicated his time at the church to aiding African Americans in seeing themselves in a positive light, and his transformation of the FAME church into a large entity not only expanded the forum for community worship, but it enabled him to reach out and help the homeless, find jobs, and worry about the environment, among other endeavors.
After retiring from his post as pastor of the First African Methodist Episcopal Church, Murray joined the faculty of USC. He was appointed as the John R. Tansey Chair of Christian Ethics in the School of Religion and was named a Senior Fellow of the Center for Religion and Civic Culture. He is the founder of the Cecil Murray Center for Community Engagement at USC.
Murray remains a tireless campaigner for jobs and training programs, always willing to aid those in need.