American theologian, educator, and civil rights mentor
Howard Washington Thurman (November 18, 1899 – April 10, 1981) was an influential American author, philosopher, theologian, educator and civil rights leader. He was Dean of Chapel at Howard University and Boston University for more than two decades, wrote 21 books, and in 1944 Thurman cofounded San Francisco’s Church for the Fellowship of All Peoples, the first integrated, interfaith religious congregation in the United States.
- Jesus rejected hatred because he saw that hatred meant death to the mind, death to the spirit, and death to communion with his Father. He affirmed life; and hatred was the great denial.
- Jesus and the Disinherited (1949), p. 77-78 in the 1996 edition published by Beacon Press.
- The movement of the Spirit of God in the hearts of men and women often calls them to act against the spirit of their times or causes them to anticipate a spirit which is yet in the making. In a moment of dedication they are given wisdom and courage to dare a deed that challenges and to kindle a hope that inspires.
- Footprints of a Dream : The Story of the Church for the Fellowship of All Peoples (1959), p. 7
- Prayer is a form of communication between God and man and man and God….I am always impressed by the fact that it is recorded that the only thing that the disciples asked Jesus to teach them how to do was to pray."
- Disciplines of the Spirit (1977)
- In the conflicts between man and man, between group and group, between nation and nation, the loneliness of the seeker for community is sometimes unendurable. The radical tension between good and evil, as man sees it and feels it, does not have the last word about the meaning of life and the nature of existence. There is a spirit in man and in the world working always against the thing that destroys and lays waste. Always he must know that the contradictions of life are not final or ultimate; he must distinguish between failure and a many-sided awareness so that he will not mistake conformity for harmony, uniformity for synthesis. He will know that for all men to be alike is the death of life in man, and yet perceive harmony that transcends all diversities and in which diversity finds its richness and significance.
- The Search For Common Ground : An Inquiry Into The Basis Of Man's Experience Of Community (1971), p. 6
- Community cannot feed for long on itself; it can only flourish where always the boundaries are giving way to the coming of others from beyond them — unknown and undiscovered brothers.
- The Search For Common Ground : An Inquiry Into The Basis Of Man's Experience Of Community (1971), p. 104
- There were long stretches where each of us was engaged in a private world of rapidly shifting vignettes. Always I was overwhelmed by the sheer number of human beings ebbing and flowing like the tides of the sea.
- Of a trip to India, in With Head and Heart: The Autobiography of Howard Thurman (1979), p. 135
- Where refugees seek deliverance that never comes
And the heart consumes itself as if it would live,
Where children age before their time
And life wears down the edges of the mind,
Where the old man sits with mind grown cold,
While bones and sinew, blood and cell, go slowly down to death,
Where fear companions each day's life,
And Perfect Love seems long delayed.
CHRISTMAS IS WAITING TO BE BORN:
In you, in me, in all mankind.
- "Christmas Is Waiting to be Born" in The Mood of Christmas & Other Celebrations (1985)
- When the song of the angels is stilled,
When the star in the sky is gone,
When the kings and princes are home,
When the shepherds are back with their flock,
The work of Christmas begins:
To find the lost,
To heal the broken,
To feed the hungry,
To release the prisoner,
To rebuild the nations,
To bring peace among people,
To make music in the heart.
- "The Work of Christmas" in The Mood of Christmas & Other Celebrations (1985)
- The measure of a man's estimate of your strength is the kind of weapons he feels that he must use in order to hold you fast in a prescribed place.
- Explaining Jim Crow laws to his daughters, in The Luminous Darkness : A Personal Interpretation of the Anatomy of Segregation and the Ground of Hope (1989), p. 71
- Don't ask yourself what the world needs. Ask yourself what makes you come alive and then go do that. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.
- As quoted in Violence Unveiled (1996) by Gil Bailie, p. xv