Called the “People’s Pastor” for his long activist career, Herbert Daughtry was born January 13, 1931 in Savannah, Georgia. He came from three generations of ministers and lived in the South until the age of 11, when he moved with his family to Brooklyn and then to Jersey City. Daughtry soon began a decade-long involvement in crime, gambling and drug abuse. In 1953 he was convicted of armed robbery and assault charges. In prison, he had a religious conversion to Pentecostalism which led him to become the pastor of the House of the Lord Church in Brooklyn, New York. By the mid-1950s, he was the third National Minister of the House of the Lord Ministries.
In the 1960s, Daughtry campaigned for school integration in the South and joined Operation Breadbasket, an organization created in 1963 by the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) to organize boycotts of businesses that failed to hire blacks or to treat blacks fairly. In 1977 he became particularly well-known in New York as a part of the Coalition of Concerned Leaders and Citizens to Save Our Jobs, which used economic boycotts to persuade Brooklyn merchants to provide jobs and services for local blacks.
In 1980 Daughtry helped establish the National Black United Front, which helped organize the national campaign for reparations and has worked alongside the New Black Panthers. In 1982 he founded the African People’s Organization, which teaches the black origins of Christianity. In 1984 he became a special assistant to Jesse Jackson during the latter's presidential campaign.
A hallmark of Daughtry's career has been his propensity to charge that American society is inherently and irredeemably racist to its core. For example, in the aftermath of an August 1989 incident where a black Brooklyn teenager named Yusef Hawkins had been shot and killed by a gang of young whites, Daughtry asserted that the incident "needs to be put in the context of all the years that we [blacks] have been subjected to the denials, the oppression, the brutality, the killings." Suggesting that the actions of the white assailants spoke for white America generally, he condemned not only Hawkins' actual killers, but all of Western civilization -- with its "contempt for, and destruction of, African humanity." In a long letter to The New York Times, Daughtry lamented that recent years had brought an "escalation of bias-related violence" against blacks. "A change must come," he added. "No people can be expected to continue to absorb this kind of pain and not explode."
That same year, Daughtry, complaining that police racism had reached epidemic proportions, declared that law-enforcement officers posed a greater danger to blacks than did the members of organized hate groups (NY Times, August 29, 1989). On another occasion, Daughtry asserted that police brutality had caused many blacks to reach "the conclusion that the youth of African ancesrtry are an endangered species" -- too often "killed by people we pay to protect us." (NY Daily News, October 5, 1994).
Over the years, Daughtry has helped organize a number of initiatives with Al Sharpton, particularly the 2006-2008 demonstrations protesting a controversial police shooting of a young black man in New York City.
A fervent proponent of Black Liberation Theology, Daughtry has served in a number of prominent positions with the World Council of Churches. He also has been one of the principal leaders of the reparations-for-slavery movement in America. His church in Brooklyn is adorned with a pro-reparations banner bearing the slogan, “They Owe Us.”
Daughtry was a featured speaker at the Millions for Reparations Rally on August 17, 2002. Appearing alongside Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan, Rep. John Conyers Jr. (D-Michigan), and Malik Zulu Shabazz and Hashim Nzinga of the New Black Panther Party, Daughtry proclaimed: “I don't care how many welfare checks you get, they will not pay you for the labor of your ancestors.” “Slavery didn’t stop because in 1865 someone signed a piece of paper,” Daughtry contends. At a March 1, 2010 New York march to raise money for earthquake victims in Haiti, Daughtry used the event as a platform from which to demand that France pay reparations to the Haitian people.
Depicting the United States as a nation that is cruel and hostile to blacks, Daughtry has stated: “I say to people being inconvenienced by terrorism since 9/11, welcome to Black America.”
Daughtry has been an organizer for a host of left-wing antiwar campaigns. On November 21, 2002 -- in conjunction with Ramsey Clark, International ANSWER, Cynthia McKinney, and Larry Holmes -- he organized and hosted a major anti-war demonstration in Brooklyn. On January 18, 2003, Daughtry was a featured speaker at the ANSWER-organized National March on Washington, whose purpose was to condemn the Bush administration for contemplating the possibility of attacking Iraq militarily. He also has worked with Democracy Now! and the Troops Out Now Coalition and participated in a worldwide anti-war rally on March 20, 2004.
An avid supporter of the Palestinian cause, Daughtry worked alongside George Galloway in 2009 to send aid to Gaza.
Daughtry’s daughter, Leah Daughtry, carries on her father’s legacy as a prominent devotee of Marxist liberation theology in the Democratic Party, and as a proponent of reparations for African Americans. In addition to ministering the House of the Lord Church in Washington, DC, she worked on the 1992 Democratic National Convention, served in the Clinton-era Labor Department, and headed the Democrats' religious outreach program, Faith in Action. Between 2000 and 2010, she rose through the ranks of the Democratic Party establishment, first as chief of staff to then-Democratic National Committee (DNC) Chairman Terry McAuliffe, and later to McAuliffe's successor, Howard Dean.