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Dr. Beverly Carroll, legendary Black Catholic advocate, dies at 75

An eminent Black Catholic organizer, educator, and administrator, integral to the Black Catholic Movement and its episcopal collaborations, has died.

(Catholic New York)

Dr. Beverly A. Carroll, the founding director of the USCCB’s Secretariat for African-American Catholics, passed away on Saturday, November 13th. She was 75 years old.

Born in 1946, she became a fixture within the Black Catholic scene of the Washington-Baltimore metro during the Black Catholic Movement of the 1960s through the 1990s.

Beginning in the late 60s, she worked for two decades in the Baltimore Archdiocese’s Office of Urban Affairs, for which she received the archdiocese's Dr. Martin Luther King Award for Civil Rights and Zeta Phi Beta Inc.'s Woman of the Year Award in 1988.

That same year, Carroll became the head of the US bishops’ new African-American secretariat, founded after the inaugural meeting of the National Black Catholic Congress (NBCC) in 1987. In that position, she would help implement the Congress’ first Pastoral Plan.

She predicted at the time that Black and Hispanic Catholics would be “the dominant cultures of the 21st century in the American Catholic Church”.

In the following years, her multifaceted advocacy on behalf of Black Catholic included pushing for more African-American priests, and pushing back against the “glass ceiling” for African American laypersons in diocesan front offices.

Carroll was also a fierce advocate for Black Catholic inculturation and education, and served for a time as president of the now-closed Fr Charles Hall Catholic School in Baltimore. She wrote multiple articles on those topics, including two in the 1996 journal, “Rise 'N' Shine: Catholic Education and the African-American Community”.

In 2009, she transitioned to the USCCB’s Secretariat for Cultural Diversity in the Church, where she focused on evangelization in the African-American community and produced a video on the topic entitled “The Cypress will Grow”. She remained in the position until her death.

Her list of honors is expansive, including an honorary doctorate of humane letters from Siena College in 1999, the National Association of Black Catholic Administrators’ “Excellence in Leadership Award” in 2008, the Archdiocese of New York’s Pierre Toussaint Medallion in 2011, and the NBCC’s inaugural “Servant of Christ” lifetime achievement award in 2012, and the National Black Sisters’ Conference’s “Sr. Antona Ebo Award” in 2018.

She also served on the Paulists' Board of Evangelization; the boards of trustees for Chicago Theological Union and the NBCC; the Franciscans' Holy Name Province African American Committee; and the Advisory Committee for the Institute for Black Catholic Studies at Xavier University of Louisiana.

Carroll's viewing has been scheduled for Monday, November 22nd at the March Funeral Home (West) in Baltimore. A wake and Funeral Mass have been scheduled for the next day at the city's historic St Peter Claver Catholic Church.

Nate Tinner-Williams is co-founder and editor of Black Catholic Messenger, a seminarian with the Josephites, and a ThM student with the Institute for Black Catholic Studies at Xavier University of Louisiana (XULA).

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