Tribute to Bishop Brazier

October 28, 2010

Produced by Eight Forty-Eight

Bishop Arthur Brazier: Church leader and community activist. (Photo courtesy of UIC Digital Collections)
Bishop Arthur Brazier: Church leader and community activist. (Photo courtesy of UIC Digital Collections)

When the Reverend Martin Luther King Jr. took to the streets of Chicago, many marched alongside him. But few matched the fervor of Bishop Arthur M. Brazier. Brazier was a vital spiritual leader in the civil rights movement.

Last week, the Chicago native was freed from a long battle with cancer. Bishop Brazier was 89.

His body will lie in state today at the Apostolic Church of God. That’s where the bishop led a congregation of more than 20,000 members for nearly 50 years. Others knew him through his work with the Woodlawn Organization.

Brazier was actively involved in Chicago’s fight for affordable housing. He opposed plans by the University of Chicago to displace residents for a proposed expansion. Rev. Leon Finney Jr., president of The Woodlawn Organization, says Brazier was at the forefront of the faith-based approach.  Bishop Brazier also worked against gangs and crime.

His resolve and determination may stem from his time in the Army. He was drafted during World War II and served as a staff sergeant in India and Burma.  But it was Brazier’s work on the home front that would make him an inspiration.

Hearing of his death, President Obama called Bishop Brazier "one of our nation's leading moral lights."  Tens of thousands are expected to attend tonight’s service at the Apostolic Church of God in Woodlawn.

The church will also host a service tomorrow at 11 a.m.