A Cry for Justice


Daniel Rudd and His Life in Black Catholicism, Journalism, and Activism, 1854-1933
Gary B. Agee
255 pages, 6″ x 9″
978-1-68226-048-7 (paper)
December 2011


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Daniel A. Rudd, born a slave in Bardstown, Kentucky, grew up to achieve much in the years following the Civil War. His Catholic faith, passion for activism, and talent for writing led him to increasingly influential positions in many places. One of his important early accomplishments was the publication of the American Catholic Tribune, which Rudd referred to as “the only Catholic journal owned and published by colored men.” At its zenith, the Tribune, run out of Detroit and Cincinnati, where Rudd lived, had ten thousand subscribers, making it one of the most successful black newspapers in the country. Rudd was also active in the leadership of the Afro-American Press Association, and he was a founding member of the Catholic Press Association.

By 1889, Rudd was one of the nation’s best-known black Catholics. His work was endorsed by a number of high-ranking church officials in Europe as well as in the United States, and he was one of the founders of the Lay Catholic Congress movement. Later, his travels took him to Bolivar County, Mississippi, and eventually on to Forrest City, Arkansas, where he worked for the well-known black farmer and businessperson, Scott Bond, and eventually co-wrote Bond’s biography.

Gary B. Agee is adjunct professor of church history at Anderson School of Theology, Anderson University.

“Gary Agee’s biography of Rudd draws attention to this important figure, whose work as an editor and activist is significant for those seeking to understand the intersections of race and religion, especially Catholicism, in the late nineteenth century. . . . Rudd’s story is an important one that has received little scholarly attention. Agee’s biography begins to rectify that neglect. . . . We can be grateful that Agee’s biography has introduced Rudd to a wider audience. His voice, alongside the voices of other turn of the century black Catholics, reveals an important but often overlooked dimension of the complicated and contested relationship between religion and race in American history.”
The Journal of Southern Religion

“Agee adds a forgotten voice to the chorus in this era of African American history. He should be commended for helping us remember Daniel Rudd, the American Catholic Tribune, and why both are important.”
—Nikki Taylor in the Journal of Southern History

“Expands our understanding of the role black Catholics played in the American civil rights movement and the promotion of racial justice in our country.”
—R. Bentley Anderson in American Catholic Studies

One to One with Bill Goodman (Video)

Gutsy black Catholic journalist found hero for racial justice in Minnesota bishop

Book sheds light on black Catholic Arkansan Daniel Rudd

“In this highly original book, Gary Agee unveils the complex challenges and opportunities for the black religious press in its quest for racial justice during the era of Jim Crow. He provides an extraordinarily detailed view of the American Catholic Tribune and its editor, Daniel A. Rudd. Specialists and general readers will judge it a valuable contribution to the field of African American religious history.”
—John David Smith, Charles H. Stone Distinguished Professor of American History, University of North Carolina at Charlotte, and co-author of Seeing the New South: Race and Place in the Photographs of Ulrich B. Phillips

“An important contribution to the scholarship on black journalism, black Catholicism, and black leadership.”
—Reginald Hildebrand, professor of African and Afro-American studies at University of North Carolina Chapel Hill and author of The Times Were Strange and Stirring: Methodist Preachers and the Crisis of Emancipation

“Well written and researched, 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. Dr. Agee presents a convincing argument that the ‘Fatherhood of God and the Brotherhood of Man’ was a rallying cry that far predates our modern civil rights movement.”
—Rev. David Endres, professor of church history and historical theology, Athenaeum of Ohio / Mt. St. Mary’s Seminary of the West

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