The Rev. Cecil Murray departs his post as pastor at First AME Church on Sept. 18, after 27 years with the most prominent — and politically connected — congregation in South Los Angeles. The LA Weekly's Erin Aubry Kaplan has an exit interview.
His 18,000-member church’s visibility and his own increased importance in political matters over the years have engendered admiration as well as backlash: Depending on your point of view, Chip Murray is exactly the kind of focused, diplomatic, methodical leader the black community needs or a pliant tool of the status quo that it needs least; on matters ranging from police reform to home-loan redlining he oversteps, and he doesn’t step far enough. Sometimes one person will hold both opinions at once about Murray, which doesn’t bother him — as long as the criticism is personal. He shrugs off not being liked, but not being taken to heart is another matter.
Another side to Murray, from Valerie Lynne Shaw, president of the city Board of Public Works: "He gets his phone calls returned from everyone...He’s the premier power broker in L.A."