Archibald Carey Jr., Class of 1929
Judge, clergyman and civil rights activist
Born and raised in Chicago, Archibald Carey, Jr. was a prominent African-American lawyer, judge, politician, diplomat and clergyman. He attended the University of Chicago and received his Divinity degree from Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary of Northwestern University before earning his law degree at Chicago-Kent in 1929. Carey practiced law with the firm Prescott, Taylor, Carey and Cooper for thirty years while also becoming politically active within Chicago. He served as an alderman for the Third Ward from 1947 to 1955 and in 1952, he gave a speech to the Republican National Convention, held in Chicago that year, calling for equal rights for all minorities. This speech is sometimes recognized as the inspiration for Martin Luther King, Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech.
In 1953, Carey was appointed as a member of the United States delegation to the United Nations and in 1957 President Dwight D. Eisenhower appointed him Chairman of the President’s Committee on Government Employment Policy, making him the first African-American to head a White House Committee. He was a close confidante of King and active in the national civil rights movement, working to end employment discrimination in the government against blacks. He participated in the Montgomery Improvement Association’s Institute on Nonviolence and Social Change and organized an Hour of Prayer in Chicago in support of the Montgomery bus boycott. He was a frequent public speaker, addressing the 2nd Anniversary of the Bus Boycott in Montgomery in 1957, the 10th World Ecumenical Conference in Oslo, Norway in 1961 and in Conferences in Israel in 1956 as an official guest of the Israeli government.
In the twilight of his career, Carey was elected Judge of the Circuit Court of Cook County in 1966 and was retained in 1970 by an even larger vote. In 1976, of thirty-one judges up for retention, he received the highest number of ‘yes’ votes. Although retirement laws officially ended his judicial service in 1978, the State Supreme Court recalled him to the bench in 1980 and he served until shortly before his death in April, 1981. While he received numerous awards and accolades throughout his career, Carey treasured none more than the Bible presented to him by the Chicago Sunday Evening Club in appreciation of his efforts to apply the principles of Christianity to the field of government in Chicago.