Alumni Stories

Rev. Raymond B. Kemp

Senior Research Fellow, Woodstock Theological Center
Georgetown University

Location: Philodemic Room, Healy Hall, Georgetown University
Interviewer/Producer: Anneliesa Clump Alprin (G’06)
Editor: Lisa Fthenakis (C’10) Rev. Raymond B. Kemp

A native Washingtonian, Father Kemp is community organizer, Catholic priest and professor. On Aug. 28, 1963, when Martin Luther King Jr. gave his “I Have a Dream” speech, Kemp was a student at St. Mary’s Seminary in Baltimore. The young seminarian attended the March on Washington, which made Kemp’s life’s purpose, his calling, clear. Kemp spent the next four decades infusing his sermons with King’s passion for social justice, and encouraging other priests to do the same, with his national Preaching the Just Word retreats, which he has led since 1992. Kemp eventually met King and worked with activists Saul Alinsky and the Berrigan brothers. Here, Kemp reflects on social justice, changes he’s seen and the election of President Obama.

Father Kemp is a tireless advocate for the poor and homeless. As a priest at St. Augustine Parish, located just north of D.C.’s historically black U Street, he was a firsthand witness to 1960s social activism. Following King’s assassination on April 4, 1968, riots broke out in the neighborhood surrounding Kemp’s church. During this period, Kemp was assaulted with teargas more than 10 times, and many speculated that he had been killed or stabbed. Since 1992, Kemp has taught Georgetown courses on race and class.

Additional Resources

Woodstock Theological Center

Medill Reports Washington
“Georgetown priest uses Scripture to stir political action”
Jan. 30, 2008

NPR: The March on Washington
Marking the 40th Anniversary of the Historic Civil Rights Protest

Martin Luther King, “I Have a Dream”

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