Nobody is a Nobody

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About the author:
A native of Cambridge, Massachusetts, Reverend Dr. Eugene S. Callender holds a BA from Boston University, a master of divinity from Westminster Theological Seminary, a master's in theology from Union Seminary, a doctor of divinity from Knoxville College, and a juris doctor from New York Law School. He has taught at Columbia School of Business, New York University, The New School for Social Research, and CUNY York College in Queens. For over sixty years, his career has covered a broad span of social, political, and devotional activism, from serving as a long-time civil rights and community leader in Harlem to serving our nation on presidential commissions under five separate presidents. As head of his ministry, Dr. Callender has been described by the New York Daily News as one of our "contemporary superstars," and by the New York Times as one of the twenty-six most outstanding clergy members in New York City. His recently published memoir is entitled Nobody Is a Nobody: The Story of a Harlem Ministry Hard at Work to Change America.

Nobody is a Nobody

The Story of a Harlem Ministry Hard at Work to Change America

Authored by Eugene S. Callender
Authored with Lorena K. Rostig, George A. Zdravecky

For over sixty years, Reverend Dr. Eugene S. Callender's career covered a broad spectrum of social, political, and devotional activism. In his memoir, Nobody Is a Nobody: The Story of a Harlem Ministry Hard at Work to Change America, readers learn how, early in his career, Callender worked as a neighborhood missionary for the Christian Reformed Church, and that in 1950 he created a ministry for drug addicts, alcoholics, welfare recipients, ex-convicts, battered women, and brutalized children. He also began the first community-based clinic to detoxify heroin addicts. Among those treated were famous jazz musicians Jackie McClean and Ike Quebec. During this time, he also became a Chaplain at Rikers Island. In 1957, Dr. Callender brought Dr. Martin Luther King to Harlem for the first time and created a public event from a flatbed truck in front of the Hotel Theresa on 125th Street.

In 1960, Dr. Callender became senior pastor at the Presbyterian Church of the Master. While there, he organized the original Street Academy Program, an educational enterprise that provided opportunities for high school dropouts to succeed in a nontraditional environment. In the end, fourteen Street Academies were formed in Harlem with significant funding by major corporations in New York City. Two thousand students would graduate from Harlem Prep, some of whom are in prominent positions in America today.

In 1962, Dr. Callender helped out a young Alex Haley, whom he found sitting with his typewriter on some orange crates in Greenwich Village. After learning about the young man's ancestors, Callender took him to Reader's Digest, the publication for which Haley eventually wrote the article that would become Roots. Later, he also assisted Haley in finding a publisher for his book, The Autobiography of Malcolm X.

Dr. Callender was responsible for the creation of the first and largest anti-poverty program in America, HARYOU-ACT, eventually becoming the executive director of the Urban League and later serving as the deputy administrator of housing under Mayor John Lindsay. He also served as president of the Urban Coalition, an organization founded to deal with inner-city relations following the widespread rioting in America in 1967 and 1968. As president of the coalition, Dr. Callender helped launch Positively Black, the first major black television show on NBC, as well as the Ashanti Clothing Enterprise, New Breed Clothing Company, and Essence Magazine.

Dr. Callender has served on presidential commissions under Presidents Johnson, Nixon, Carter, Bush Sr., and Clinton. From 1983 to 1989, he served as commissioner for the New York State Office for the Aging, and from 1989 to 1991, as a member of the Parole Board for the State of New York, both under Governor Mario Cuomo.
He later became president for the Board of Directors of the SYDA Foundation, and served as pastor at the Christian Parish for Spiritual Renewal. In 1996, Dr. Callender became national chairperson of the Senior Citizen Council for the Clinton-Gore presidential campaign. For many years, he was an active participant in the Hunger Project, and served as a senior advisor to their Global Board of Directors. From 2002 to 2006, he was the pastor at St. James Presbyterian Church, where he was instrumental in creating the Harlem 40 and Harlem 50.

In 2007, Dr. Callender was appointed leader in residence at the Colin Powell Center at The City College of New York, where he continues to conduct seminars and colloquiums to graduate students. He is also chairman of the board of the National Black Theater of Harlem and serves as the chairman of the Senior Coordinating Committee of the Democratic National Committee.

"My book is our story, America, and my experiences are simply a catalyst to reveal that we are never alone and without hope with God," he says.

Publication Date:
1463634811 / 9781463634810
Page Count:
Binding Type:
US Trade Paper
Trim Size:
6.14" x 9.21"
Black and White with Bleed
Related Categories:
Biography & Autobiography / Personal Memoirs

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