In Peace and Freedom: My Journey in Selma

In Peace and Freedom: My Journey in Selma

In Peace and Freedom: My Journey in Selma

In Peace and Freedom: My Journey in Selma

Excerpt

Ever since I was a teenager I have had an interest in civil rights. I participated in the Youth Council of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) in Tampa, Florida, at an early age. In Tampa the president of the NAACP was Rev. Leon Lowry and the field secretary was Mr. Robert Sanders. But my active involvement in the civil rights movement began when I was a student at the American Baptist Theological Seminary in Nashville, Tennessee. My roommate, John Robert Lewis from Troy, Alabama (who was later elected U.S. Representative from Atlanta, Georgia), persuaded me to attend some nonviolence workshops conducted by Rev. James Lawson. I was preoccupied with my studies and jobs on campus and felt I was too busy to take on another obligation. However, after going to one meeting I was convinced that working toward nonviolence and peace would become one of my life’s missions.

What fascinated me about Rev. Lawson’s approach was the clear connection between our biblical and theological studies and the social change movement. Up to that point I had not seen the connection. This was a turning point in my life where I combined the gospel with the social change movement based on the concept of love from New Testament theology. I was curious to learn more.

My introduction to Gandhi and learning about the powerful nonviolent movements he led were life changing for me. I began to see the relationship, connection, and symmetry between Gandhi’s movement in a country on the other side of the world and our movement of social change right here in the United States. I was inspired, just as Dr. King was, by the possible impact that nonviolence could have in this country. The most important aspect was that it had immediate practical application, not just intellectual curiosity. The idea of civil disobedience intrigued me as I came to understand that it was more important to obey a moral law than an unjust civil law. The fact that a foreign country could have experienced a similar situation in struggling for civil rights made me realize that nonviolence is universal.

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