Biography of Reverend Dr. Calvin O. Butts, III
The Reverend Dr. Calvin O. Butts, III, is Pastor of the nationally renowned Abyssinian Baptist Church in the City of New York, and President of the State University of New York (SUNY) College at Old Westbury. His sincere commitment to enhancing the kingdom of God on earth is evidenced in a loyal attention to the daily activities and services of the congregation, as well as the pervasive impact of the church on community development initiatives: homelessness, senior citizen and youth empowerment, cultural awareness and ecumenical outreach.
Under Dr. Butts’ leadership, The Abyssinian Baptist Church is committed to the expansion and maintenance of the Christian mission. Reverend Butts was one of the founders, and is the current Chairman of Abyssinian Development Corporation, a comprehensive, community-based not for profit organization, responsible for over $600 million in housing and commercial development in Harlem. He was also instrumental in establishing the Thurgood Marshall Academy for Learning and Social Change – a public, state-of-the-art, intermediate and high school in Harlem, and he is the visionary behind Thurgood Marshall Academy Lower School, which opened in September 2005.
Dr. Butts is a native New Yorker. He spent a few years in the South, where he earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Philosophy from Morehouse College in Atlanta, Georgia. He returned to New York and earned a Master of Divinity Degree in Church History from Union Theological Seminary, and a Doctorate of Ministry Degree in Church and Public Policy from Drew University. Further, the Reverend was conferred with honorary degrees from Morehouse College, Atlanta, Georgia; The City College of New York, New York; Tuskegee University in Tuskegee, Alabama; Claflin College of Orangeburg, South Carolina; Dillard University, New Orleans, Louisiana; Muhlenberg College, Allentown, Pennsylvania; and Trinity College, Hartford, Connecticut.
Reverend Butts was an Urban Affairs instructor, and served as Adjunct Professor in the African Studies Department at City College, New York. He also taught Black Church History at Fordham University, and continues to give lectures and speeches to colleges, universities and various organizations throughout the United States and abroad.
In addition to his professional and religious avocations, Dr. Butts is Chairman of the National Black Leadership Commission on AIDS (NBLCA), as well as a founding member of the organization’s Board of Commissioners. He is also a member of the Presidential Advisory Council on HIV/AIDS (PACHA), as well as a Board member of New Visions for Public Schools, and American Baptist College in Nashville, Tennessee.
Previously the Reverend served as President of Africare, an organization dedicated to the improvement of the quality of life in rural Africa, as well as President of the Council of Churches of the City of New York; and he was formerly Vice-Chair of the Board of Directors of United Way of New York City, and Chairman of the Board of the Harlem Branch YMCA.
Dr. Butts has spearheaded numerous boycotts against institutions that practice racist policies and employment discrimination. He led a nationally acclaimed and most effective campaign to eliminate negative billboard advertising in Central Harlem and New York City communities, and was joined in this effort by religious leaders and prominent officials in other areas of the country, who carried out similar campaigns with equal success. He was also at the vanguard of exposing rap music that includes violent and negative lyrics targeted at women. Rev. Butts’ boycott efforts have helped to sensitize this nation to the evils of exploitive advertising, and he continues on a mission to uplift the ethical standards of the human community.
Reverend Butts is the recipient of numerous commendations and honors, including the Man of the Year Award from Morehouse College Alumni Association; The Morehouse College Candle Award; The William M. Moss Distinguished Brotherhood Award; and The Louise Fisher Morris Humanitarian Award. He is a member of Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, The Prince Hall Masons (having received the 33rd final degree in Masonry), and was recognized as a Living Treasure by the New York City Chamber of Commerce and Industry.
Dr. Butts is consistently invited to preach in distinguished pulpits throughout New York, as well as nationally and internationally. He has traveled to Africa, China, Cuba, Europe, the Middle East, the Netherlands, South America and throughout the Caribbean Islands.
Reverend Butts is married and has three children and six grandchildren.