Rev. Calvin S. Morris, Ph.D. serves as Executive Director of the Community Renewal Society, a faith-based social justice advocacy organization in Chicago focusing on race and poverty. A civil rights and human rights activist, he worked with Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., serving as Associate Director of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference’s Operation BreadBasket (now Operation PUSH) in Chicago from 1967-71. He was Executive Director of the Martin Luther King Jr. Center for Nonviolent Social Change, from 1973-76. He was also a university professor and theological dean from 1976-1998. Morris is frequently invited to preach, speak and lecture.
When I came to Chicago in 1967, ostensibly to work on a PhD at the University of Chicago, where I had been admitted hoping to study under the famed African-American historian John Hope Franklin, those intentions were derailed by my college friend, Jesse Louis Jackson, and his challenge to me that it was time to make more concrete my commitment to the Civil Rights Movement of that day. It was an offer I could not refuse, and sometime thereafter I met Rabbi Robert Marx, founder of the Jewish Council on Urban Affairs.
Accepting Jesse’s invitation, I moved to join the staff of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference’s Operation BreadBasket in Chicago. Dr. King was the leader of SCLC and we all served at his pleasure. Rabbi Marx, Rev. Clay Evans, the late Al Raby and Rev. Arthur Griffin, along with the Rev. Donald Benedict, Executive Director of Community Renewal Society, were individuals among many who had invited Dr. King to Chicago the year before.