Courtney Brown and St. Philip's Episcopal Church in Harlem, NY

This exhibit explores St. Philip's Episcopal Church’s educational activism through the perspective of the late Courtney C. Brown, a life-long member of the church. St. Philip's "social gospel," or commitment to the community, is a central theme of Brown's oral history narrative. He uses the phrase to describe the church's role in Harlem. His educational experiences (both formal and informal) anchored his oral history, guided the chronology of his story telling and informed his understanding of activism. His recollections encourage us to think about both the role of the individual and the institution - the Black Episcopalian and the Black Episcopal church - as participants in change. Oral history brings a voice to the discourse that is otherwise lost in the archives. However, oral history (or any resource) studied in isolation is problematic. Accordingly, this exhibit integrates Brown’s oral history with archival research, secondary literature and mapping to interpret St. Philip’s - and one of its parishioner’s - participation in the prophetic sphere.


Exhibit by Jennifer Boyle, based on an interview with Courtney C. Brown conducted by Jennifer Boyle.