Editor’s note: The Daytona Times interviewed the Rev. Carl Brinkley in February 2013 as part of a Black History Month series on residents who had made great strides locally and nationally. Rev. Brinkley died on Feb. 2 at age 90. Here are excerpts from that interview. See his obituary on Page 2.
BY DAYTONA TIMES STAFF
Many in Daytona Beach know the Rev. Carl Brinkley as the longtime executive director of the Daytona Beach Housing Authority.
Brinkley was born in 1925 and grew up in Newark, N.J., where he was one of few Black students attending the integrated Central Avenue Elementary and Junior High schools.
In 1942, shortly after Japan bombed Pearl Harbor, a 16-year-old Brinkley lied about his age and enlisted in the United States Marines.
“I believed our enemy was Japan, and I was only another American who wanted to serve my country,” Brinkley said about why he enlisted.
From Marines to ministry
In 1948, he arrived in Daytona Beach at age 23 to help his ailing grandparents.
After his arrival, he got his “call” to be a preacher. “It was 3 o’clock in the morning,” Brinkley said in the 2013 interview with the Daytona Times. “The spirit said ‘Go preach my gospel.’ “
His grandmother, Liza Brinkley-Williams, according to Brinkley, was the only Black woman in town, other than her friend, Dr. Mary McLeod Bethune, founder of Bethune-Cookman University, who owned her own car.
Brinkley would eventually become good friends with Albert Bethune, the grandson and adopted son of Dr. Mary McLeod Bethune.
“She (Dr. Bethune) asked me, ‘How would you like to be a deputy? I am tired of the harassment my girls are getting going downtown,’” Brinkley recalled.
Pioneer Volusia deputy
In 1952, Brinkley would become the first full-time Black deputy sheriff in Volusia County under Sheriff James Tucker.
Brinkley shared that Tucker was not re-elected to a second four-year term because he hired Brinkley and other Black deputies. Brinkley recalled an editorial in the local daily newspaper when he was a deputy that said “if he arrested White people, he would be fired.”
This upset Bethune who called for a meeting with Tucker. He assured her it was not true. Brinkley said Bethune was told by Tucker he could arrest anyone who violates the law.
He further stated that he was a pallbearer at Bethune’s funeral in 1955, which he considered a great honor.
Longtime CEO, pastor
After quitting the sheriff’s department, having reached the rank of sergeant, Brinkley would start his career with the Daytona Beach Housing Authority in the maintenance department. That was in 1958.
He would retire 40 years later as the agency’s CEO and executive director.
Ordained as a minister in 1948, Brinkley pastored at several African Methodist Episcopal churches in Port Orange, Bunnell, Sanford, Merritt Island and Altamonte Springs.
His longest stint as a pastor would be at New Bethel A.M.E. Church in Ormond Beach from 1982 until he retired from preaching in 1995.
Brinkley was called out of retirement in February 1999 to preach at Mt. Zion A.M.E. in DeLand for a few years.
He says the reason he was called to so many churches is because he was known as a rebuilder and boasted that he left all his churches in good standing.
“I don’t feel one would not have me back,” Brinkley remarked.
His home was filled with more than 200 certificates, plaques and other honors.
Although he has been recognized by many groups and organizations – both locally and nationally – Brinkley said he is most proud of the work he did as a minister.
“This is my most gratifying position,” he added.