L.A.-based civil rights leader and pastor Rev. Dr. Cecil L. 'Chip' Murray dies at 94

 April 7, 2024

The civil rights community lost a legend last week. 

According to ABC News, Rev. Dr. Cecil L. "Chip" Murray, who rose to national prominence in the Los Angeles area given his work in the community as a pastor at one of the city's oldest churches, has died at 94.

The USC Center for Religion and Civic Culture released a statement last week confirming Murray's death.

According to Murray's son, Drew Murray, the civil rights leader died of natural causes.


Murray logged 27 years as the pastor of First African Methodist Episcopal Church of Los Angeles, the oldest and one of the most influential churches in the Los Angeles area.

When he joined the church, it was rather small. By the time he was ready to move on from the church, it had grown into a staggering 18,000+ member church.

His connection to the community and his influence was unmatched in the wake of the 1992 L.A. race riots triggered by the beating of Rodney King.

ABC News noted:

In 1992, the acquittal of four police officers who were caught on video violently beating Rodney King triggered an explosion of violence in the predominantly Black neighborhoods of South Los Angeles. Murray emerged as a calming presence and was a frequent guest on national television news shows.

He used his connections with the city's political and business leaders to raise money for recovery efforts, including loans for businesses and assistance for people displaced by the violence.

His church grew so influential and, quite frankly, powerful, that it turned into a must-stop for any serious presidential candidate.

Tributes pour in

Given his role and legacy in the community, tributes to the pastor and famed civil rights leader poured in across social media in the wake of his death announcement.

"One of the finest people it has been my privilege to know. May his memory be a blessing," wrote David Wolpe on X.

Another X user wrote, "With the passing of Reverend/Dr. CecilChipMurray, the retired, beloved pastor of L.A.’s First AME Church & civil rights icon, we lost a true Spiritual Servant Leader who’s influence will benefit generations. I thank you for your mentorship. Rest in Peace & Power my friend."

Clearly, his legacy will live on.

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