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Episcopal clergyman and social activist, Columbia University A.B., 1930; Ph.D, 1954. He was born in North Carolina, the son and grandson of Episcopal ministers, and he studied under his mother, Catherine Perry Weston, at St. Luke's Parochial School in Tarboro NC, which had been founded by his maternal grandfather, the Rev. John W. Perry, in 1882. Following in the footsteps of his mother and his father, the Rev. Milton Moran Weston, he attended St. Augustine's Junior College in Raleigh NC from which he graduated in 1928 as valedictorian.
In 1928, Weston enrolled at Columbia University in New York City from which he graduated in 1930. His career as a social activist and clergyman was centered in that city. During the 1930s, he studied at General Theological Seminary in New York, at the Episcopal Divinity School in Philadelphia, and at Union Theological Seminary in New York from which he received a Bachelor of Divinity degree in 1934 and later a M. Div. He continued his studies at the New School for Social Research, 1935-1937, and at Columbia University for a Ph.D in social history in 1954.
During the 1930s and 1940s, Weston participated in several student and community organizations that supported Negro, interracial, youth, civic, and labor causes. In 1934 he served as chairman of the National Conference on Problems of Negro College Students. He also worked as a caseworker and supervisor for the New York City Department of Social Welfare from 1935 to 1941. In 1941 he began writing his column, "Labor Forum", which appeared in THE AMSTERDAM NEWS for almost ten years. In 1942, following the attack on Pearl Harbor, he was asked to manage the efforts of a community labor group, The Labor Victory Committee, to obtain jobs in the war industries for Negroes, especially those led by A, Philip Randolph, founder and head of the Pullman Car Workers Union, which led to the issuance of the historic Executive Order 8802 by President Roosevelt.
He managed the first Negro Freedom Rally held in Madison Square Garden with wide public support and the participation of Duke Ellington, Pearl Primus, and Paul Robson. This was a presentation of a Negro history pagent written by Yale University graduate Owen Dodson which attracted an overflow audience in the Garden with over 5,000 persons on 49th Street, unable to enter. The second Negro Freedom Rally the following year, also in Madison Square Garden, had more than 19,000 people in attendance. He was also asked to organize support for a third public rally in Madison Square Garden against colonialism in Africa, sponsored by Africa House, which drew about 14,000 people. During the same war period, he was asked to manage the African Dance Festival, presented to a sold-out audience at Carnegie Hall with a performance by Asadata Dafora, a noted African drummer, sponsored by the African American Council with Eleanor Roosevelt and Mary McLeod Bethune as guests of honor.
From 1947 to 1957 he was a licensed real estate broker. In 1947 he helped foung the Carver Federal Savings and Loan which became the Carver Federal Savings Bank, a public company traded on the American Stock Exchange. His tenure at Carver ran until 1998, during which time he served as president from 1968 to 1969, chairman of the board from 1980 to 1995, and chairman emeritus in 1998.
In 1953 he obtained a grant from the Fund for the Republic to recruit and hire a non-black Episcopal Clergyman to visit selected churches in the south to encourage suppport for the expected result of Brown vs. the Board of Education in 1954. For this undertaking, he wrote a background paper and guide which was published by the National Council of the Episcopal Church as JUST RIGHT AND NECESSARY.
Weston's professional association with St. Philip's Church began in the mid-1940s. The parish, which had been founded in 1809 and whose history dates to 1697, was then one of the largest parishes in the Episcopal Church. In 1945, he helped found its Federal Credit Union. From January 1948 through September 1951, he served as business manager of the church, leaving to become executive secretary of the Department of Christian Social Relations of the National Council of the Protestant Episcopal Church, a position he held until 1957. In June 1951, Weston was ordained an Episcopal priest and in September 1957 he returned to St. Philip's as the sixth rector in its 147-year history. He served until retiring in 1982 as Rector Emeritus.
As a staff officer of the National Council of the Episcopal Church (1952-1957) he obtained, in 1956, a grant from the Fund for the Republic to produce and transport a traveling exhibition on the role of the Episcopal Church in promoting the cause of social and political justice in the U.S.A. during the 20th century. Starting with its first showing at the Cathedral of St, John the Devine in New York City, the exhibition was presented at some 19 key Episcopal churches.
As part of his many responsibilities, he created the Community Service Council of Greater Harlem, Inc. (CSC) which was the social service arm of his ministry and served as its president from 1959 to 1985. Under his direction the Council, in cooperation with the church, constructed a community center and parish house in 1970 of 30,000 sq. ft. on 4 levels and air-conditioned. In 1970 he also founded the Upper Manhattan Day Care and Child Development Center with specifically designed facilities and staff for 65 pre-school and 110 after-school pupils daily. Two newly constructed residences (St. Philip's Senior House, 200 apartments, and St. Philip's on the Park, 260 apartments) under a corporation and board independent of the church opened in 1974 and 1975. The Greater Harlem Nursing Home, under a separate corporation of which he was the founder and president until 1986, was completed the following year. In 1979 the church rehabilitated ten adjoining apartment buildings which it had owned since 1910 when African-Americans first began to move to Harlem. The building had been bought by the church during its relocation from 25th Street and 7th Avenue to 134th Street west of 7th Avenue under the leadership of the 4th Rector of the church, the Rev. Mr Bishop (1886-1934).
In 1985 Weston opened Bishop House, the first unit of 20 residential apartments for independent living for the mentally challenged, followed by Weston House in 1988 and the Weston House Transitional Living Community in 1989. A third senior citizens' apartment building on Convent Avenue at 131st Street, Weston Terrace, was opened in 1988. Dr Weston also served as president of the Douglass Circle Development Corporation, sponsored by the New York City Housing Partnership, which constructed two subsidized condominium buildings of 600 apartments at 110th Street and Central Park West in 1988.
From the 1950s through the 1990s Weston served on numerous boards including the NAACP Legal Defense Fund, the Leake and Watts Children's Home, the New York City Mission Society, the Community Service Council of Greater New York, Columbia University, the Phelps Stokes Fund, the Mt. Sinai Medical School and Hospital, St. Augustine's College in Raleigh NC, CARE, the Urban League of Westchester County, the Foreign Relations Association, the Cathedral of St. John the Devine, the Harlem Cultural Council, and the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture.
Weston was also active as an advocate for community redevelopment in Harlem and for affordable housing for all Americans. He founded Urban Ventures, Inc. in 1959 and Harlem-on-the-Hudson Development, Inc. in 1969 to advance the redevelopment of Harlem. He initiated Housing for People, Inc. in 1980 and the National Association for Affordable Housing (NAFAH) in 1985. At the request of NAFAH Congressman Charles Rangel introduces in Congress in 1995, 1996, and 1997 his proposed amendment to the Constitution to make a home a right of all American citizens. The proposed amendment is known as the "Home Amendment". As a civic project he organized the MAS Breakfast Group from 1975 to 1995 which offered networking possibilities for black leaders in New York.
Dr Weston's scholarly accomplishments include a position as a tenured Professor of Social History in the Department of African and African-American Studies at the State University of New York at Albany from 1968 to 1977, and as a Visiting Professor at the University of Ife, Nigeria in 1978. His publications include EPISCOPALIANS AT WORK IN THE WORLD (1952), his dissertation SOCIAL POLICY OF THE EPISCOPALIAN CHURCH IN THE TWENTIETH CENTURY (1964), and WHO IS THIS JESUS? (1973), and numerous articles, pamphlets, and chapters of books. His public speaking engagements included presentations throughout the country at conferences, conventions, churches, civic organizations, universities, colleges, and secondary schools.
Numerous awards and commendations have been given him including an honorary Doctor of Divinity from the Virginia Theological Seminary in 1964, an honorary Doctor of Sacred Theology from Columbia University in 1969, and an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters from Fordham University in 1988, as well as many awards from Harlem, New York, and national organizations. From 1968 to 1977 Weston held two full-time paid positions, one in Albany and the other in New York City, as well as various volunteer responsibilities.