National Office of Black Catholics (NOBC)

The National Office for Black Catholics (NOBC) was an organization of black Catholics in the United States, headquartered in Washington, DC. Its mission was “to make the Church relevant to the needs of the black community; to assist generally in the black liberation movement; to assist black Catholics in their efforts to become self-determining and to become an effective voice in the whole of Church government.”

NOBC was founded in 1970, as an umbrella group for the National Black Catholic Clergy Caucus (NBCCC), the National Black Sisters Conference (NBSC), and the National Black Lay Catholic Caucus (NBLCC). However, tension over the mission and organizational structure of the organization led to the formal withdrawal of the NBSC and NBCCC in the early 1980s. The organization was endorsed by the National Conference of Catholic Bishops, which maintained an Ad Hoc Committee as a liaison with NOBC.

NOBC had a dual focus of pushing the Catholic Church to be more inclusive towards African Americans and involving the Church in supporting broader civil rights issues. The organization’s work included promoting black clerical leadership, supporting the development of African-rooted liturgy and ministries, contributing to the revitalization of black parishes, and strengthening black Catholic education. The organization also worked with the American Catholic hierarchy to bring issues around race to the forefront and participated in the 1976 “Call to Action” conference held by the U.S. bishops. It organized conferences focused on African American worship styles and lay leadership, as well as religious revivals.

The records in this collection document NOBC’s major activities and administrative operations, as well as those of its affiliated organizations, including the National Black Lay Catholic Caucus, National Black Catholic Clergy Caucus, National Black Sisters Conference, and the American Catholic Lay Network. In addition to materials created by the staff and board members of NOBC, the collection includes a variety of historical studies and contemporary material relating to African Americans and the Catholic Church.

Together, the National Office for Black Catholics archives documents not only the experience of being black and Catholic in the United States, but also the Catholic Church’s response to the civil rights struggles of the 20th century.

Finding Aid

Click here for a complete finding aid and inventory of the collection.

Digital Materials

Some audiovisual materials from the collection have been digitized, and are available for viewing on YouTube.

Accessing the Collection

The National Office for Black Catholics records are open for research by appointment.

For information, or to schedule an appointment, contact Isabel Medina at