Mathew H. Ahmann, Catholic Activist and Former Leadership Conference Executive Committee Member, Dies at 70
Feature Story by Michelle Russell - 1/16/2002Mathew H. Ahmann, Catholic Activist and Former Leadership Conference Executive Committee Member, Dies at 70
Matt Ahmann, a longtime civil rights activist, passed away December 31, 2001 at the age of 70. Ahmann’s greatest legacy is his civil rights work within the Catholic Church, which includes the founding of the National Catholic Conference for Interracial Justice in 1960.
Along with founding the National Catholic Conference for Interracial Justice, Ahmann served as its executive director from its beginnings in 1960 until 1969. During his tenure as executive director, he laid out the framework and structure of the 1963 National Conference on Religion and Race. This union consisted of members from 78 denominations and church organizations.
Ahmann was a key player in the civil rights movement of the 1960s. He served as one of the 10 co-chairmen of the 1963 March on Washington, helping to organize the event that drew over 200,000 marchers. Continuing his support of racial equality, Ahmann also was involved in planning the 1965 civil rights marches in Alabama.
Among the many positions Ahmann held during his lifetime, he served as executive director of the Commission on Church and Society, was an executive committee member of the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights, and for 16 years was the associate director of government relations for Catholic Charities USA.
Ahmann’s many publications include the “The New Negro and Race: Challenge to Religion” and “The Church and the Urban Racial Crisis.”
Upon Ahmann’s death, Bill Taylor, Vice Chairman of the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights, remarked: “Mr. Ahmann was a quiet voice of conscience in the civil rights movement, who helped make the Leadership Conference the effective organization that it is today. We will miss him.”