Born a slave in 1854, Daniel Rudd was owned by a Catholic family in Bardstown, Ky.
That upbringing, and his eventual emancipation and education, led Rudd to become a forward-thinking Catholic activist in America.
“In 1888, he said he believed he would live long enough to see a black man as president of the republic,” said Gary B. Agee, an adjunct professor of church history at the Anderson University School of Theology.
Agee recently wrote a book about Rudd’s influence as a black Catholic publisher, civil rights leader, and activist. The book, “A Cry for Justice, Daniel Rudd and his Life in Black Catholicism, Journalism and Activism, 1854-1933” is receiving critical praise.
Released by the University of Arkansas Press, the book is available through www.amazon.com and www.uapress.com. Agee will discuss the book in a brown bag lunch seminar at noon on March 1 in Nicholson Library at Anderson University.
One professor, the Rev. David Endres, of the Athenaeum of Ohio/Mt. St. Mary’s Seminary of the West, wrote, “This engaging study of African American Catholic Daniel Rudd deserves to be read not only by historians of American religion but by those who seek a better understanding of the demands of racial and social justice.”
Agee began studying Rudd while pursuing a Ph.D. focusing on racism and the church, particularly the Anderson Church of God reformation movement.
While working at the University of Dayton, a Catholic Marianist institution, Agee learned of Rudd’s story.
“I ran across this figure who was combating racism and racial discrimination ... and his message was very appealing,” Agee said.
“He was talking about the fatherhood of God and the brotherhood of humanity. He really believed the church should be all about this.”
Rudd, who had worked as reporter in Springfield, Ohio, believed there was no room for racism in the Catholic church. In 1886 he and local physician James T. Whitson founded the American Catholic Tribune, a national black Catholic newspaper. Rudd declared that the Catholic Church was the “only place on this continent where rich and poor, white and black, must drop prejudice at the threshold and go hand and hand to the altar.”
By 1892, the paper had 10,000 subscribers.
Rudd would go on to organize the Colored Catholic Congress Movement, known now as the “Black Catholic Congress Movement.” Rudd also was one of three founding members of the lay Catholic congress movement that brought together a multiracial and multicultural group of Catholics. Rudd died in 1933.
This is Agee’s third book. His master’s thesis on evangelist Thomas Clifford Hutchinson was published as “A Giant in the Valley: Reverend Thomas Clifford Hutchinson, Why He Wouldn’t Quit.”
In 2002, he wrote “Sunday After: Living with tragedy this side of America’s worst day,” surveying how the Church of God handled the 9/11 crisis.
— Scott L. Miley is features editor for The Herald Bulletin. Story reposted with permission.
Anderson University is a private Christian university of 2,600 undergraduate and graduate students in central Indiana. Anderson University continues to be recognized as one of America's top colleges by U.S. News and World Report, The Princeton Review, and Forbes. Established in 1917 by the Church of God, Anderson University offers more than 65 undergraduate majors and graduate programs in business, education, music, nursing, and theology.