Lion - Fall 2019 - The Rev. Dr. Calvin S. Morris ’63: Champion Of Civil Rights

Lion - Fall 2019 - The Rev. Dr. Calvin S. Morris ’63: Champion Of Civil Rights

By Bruce E. Beans

The Rev. Dr. Calvin S. Morris ‘63 cares deeply, and has given greatly, to two of the things he is most passionate about: the civil rights movement and Lincoln University. 

A proud member of Beta Chapter of Omega Psi Phi fraternity, he still fondly remembers his time at Lincoln, which awarded him an honorary LL.D. degree in 1992. To underscore his dedication to Lincoln and its mission, he is a member of the University’s 1854 Society as well as the Lincoln Society.

As a member of the 1854 Society, he has bequeathed two life insurance policies to the University. “I would like my bequest to be used in perpetuity as an endowed scholarship to enable students to travel the world, gain new perspectives and forge international relationships,” he says.  

Now 78, the minister, historian, and human rights advocate is still very active and as dapper as ever. He resides in Chicago surrounded by his accolades, artwork collection, and historical photographs.

Raised in Philadelphia, Morris was one of the first black students to attend the Friends Select School, the prestigious Quaker college preparatory school in Center City. From there, he matriculated to Lincoln University, where he would graduate cum laude with a B.A. degree in history—and would go on to serve as chair of the board of trustees for both Friends Select and Lincoln.

Following Lincoln, from Boston University he earned: an M.A. in history in 1964; an S.B.T. in theology in 1967 (when he was also ordained in the United Methodist Church); and his Ph.D. in American history in 1982.

Throughout his career, Morris has served with distinction in leadership roles with such notable organizations and institutions as the Southern Christian Leadership Conference’s Operation Breadbasket (now the Rainbow/PUSH Coalition); the African American Studies Program at Simmons College; Howard University’s School of Divinity; the Interdenominational Theological Center in Atlanta; and Chicago’s Community Renewal Society. Morris served as the executive director of Atlanta’s Martin Luther King, Jr. Center for Non-Violent Social Change, a position he was asked to serve in by Coretta Scott King, with whom he had longstanding friendship.

Presently in Chicago, he is a board member for numerous organizations and is a co-convener of the Justice Coalition of Greater Chicago and cochairman of Jobs for Justice Clergy Committee.

Morris has a daughter and son-in-law and two grandchildren who reside in Wisconsin.