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Conrad Tillard - From hip hop minister to community reverend

BY AMITY PAYE | 4/12/2011, 5:27 p.m.

Reverend Conrad B. Tillard serves as Sr. Pastor at Nazarene Congregational Church, a United Church of Christ (UCC) in Brooklyn. Born in St. Louis, MO Rev. Tillard moved to and grew up in Washington DC when he was very young. He then attended the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia and majored in African American studies.

But Tillard, who has now been in New York for 25 years said, "New York is the greatest city in the world: Brooklyn is my base and New York is my place."

In his youth, Rev. Tillard was a prominent activist and became an important figure in New York as Minister Conrad Muhammad, the national youth minister of the Nation of Islam and later minister of Harlem's famous Mosque #7. He also became famous as the "hip hop minister," speaking out on issues in the Black community and hip hop.

Now Rev. Tillard is recounting his very active youth in his memoir, "In My Father's House: The Spiritual and Political Memoir of the Man Once Known as the Hip Hop Minister, Conrad Muhammad," which will be released on Fathers Day.

"It was the golden age of Black Hip Hop. All the groups and things the youth like now I was right there in the middle of it and I cant wait to share my story through this book," said Rev. Tillard.

But Tillard's activist work didn't stop in his youth. He says he is now "a very community orientated pastor," working on many projects not only at Nazarene Congressional Church, but in the larger community of New York.

"I've been very active for the past years. It's about African Americans becoming aligned. It was important to give leverage to the African American community in the state. We don't have a lot of leverage in the state and it's a shame," said Tillard. "We've got to stand up and speak out and challenge New Yorkers to be the best they can be." To do that Tillard is currently supporting a project to raise 23 thousand dollars for a boys and girls high school basketball team which won the championship this year but do not have the money to buy their victory rings.

"They are the basketball champions, that's a big deal for them," said Tillard. "They are doing great things, they are the best team in NYC and we are raising money to support them and give them what they deserve."