Iconic L.A. Pastor And Civil Rights Activist Dr. Cecil Murray Passes Away At 94

Iconic L.A. Pastor And Civil Rights Activist Dr. Cecil Murray Passes Away At 94


Dr. Cecil Murray, YouTube screenshot

Los Angeles mourns the loss of Reverend Dr. Cecil L. “Chip” Murray, a revered pastor, civil rights leader, and community activist who passed away at the age of 94 on April 5.

Dr. Murray, known for his transformative leadership at the First African Methodist Episcopal Church (FAME), Los Angeles’ oldest Black-founded church, had been dealing with health issues, as confirmed by his family to the  Los Angeles Sentinel newspaper.

During his 27-year tenure at FAME, Reverend Murray’s distinctive theology and engagement in social justice turned the congregation from a modest 250 members into a thriving megachurch of over 18,000 worshippers. Under his leadership, FAME became a cornerstone of Black activism and community empowerment in Los Angeles, KTLA reported.

Following his retirement from FAME at the age of 75, Dr. Murray continued his legacy at the University of Southern California (USC), where he launched the Passing the Mantle program, later renamed the Murray Center for Community Engagement. Through this initiative, he trained future leaders in civic engagement and community development.

During the Los Angeles Riots in 1992, following the acquittal of four white Los Angeles policemen connected with the severe beating that was captured on video camera of African-American motorist Rodney King in March 1991, Murry played a major role in not only calling for calm but also for police accountability.

Los Angeles Mayor Karen Bass described him as a “giant” whose dedication to service and community upliftment left an indelible mark on the city. She remarked, “Reverend Dr. Cecil Murray dedicated his life to service, community, and putting God first in all things.”

Born in Lakeland, Florida, Dr. Murray graduated from Florida A&M University before serving in the United States Air Force for ten years, retiring as a major. He later earned a PhD in religion from the School of Theology at Claremont College.

TDr. Murray’s commitment to advancing civil rights extended beyond the pulpit. He played a pivotal role in addressing police brutality, promoting education, and spearheading economic development initiatives aimed at uplifting disadvantaged communities.

Under his leadership, FAME launched transformative projects, including the FAME Renaissance Center, which revitalized the surrounding neighborhood and provided critical resources to those in need.
Dr. Murray’s profound impact reached far beyond Los Angeles, with national and international recognition for his efforts in promoting social justice and community empowerment. His legacy continues to inspire generations to pursue justice and equality.

Dr. Cecil Murray is survived by his son, Drew. His wife, Bernardine, who shared his lifelong commitment to service and community, preceded him in death in 2013.

Dr. Cecil Murray, YouTube screenshot, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SetPhblyzzw