Prominent Civil Rights Activist Dies Of Natural Causes



Rev. Cecil “Chip” Murray, a senior minister and civil rights leader who emerged as a calming presence during the Los Angeles riots in 1992, passed away of natural causes this week at the age of 94.

Reverend Murray was born in Lakeland, Florida, and grew up in the segregated South. In his early life, Murray attended Florida A&M University and eventually joined the Air Force after graduating. He retired as a major after ten years of service. After leaving the Air Force, Murray went back to school, this time to the School of Theology at Claremont College to earn his PhD in religion and became a minister.

Cecil ended up in Los Angeles, where he became the pastor of the First African American

Methodist Episcopal (FAME) Church. While Murray continued to work in Los Angeles, the city erupted into chaos after the acquittal of the police officers who beat Rodney King in March 1991.

Cecil stepped into action, urging the people of Los Angeles to remain calm and working behind the scenes to create a plan to redirect the anger that was taking over the streets of LA. With the help of Donald E. Miller, a professor of religion at the University of Southern California, Murray established the Center for Religion and Civic Culture to promote the significance of religion in society.

Murray also helped bring in nearly four hundred million dollars in investments to his church’s non-profit fundraising organization. These funds were utilized to support the low-income communities in the city.

Murray retired from the church in 2004 after twenty-seven years and began working at USC as the Tansey Professor of Christian Ethics and chair of the Cecil Murray Center for Community Engagement.


Rest in peace!

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