John Lewis called Howard Thurman a “saint of the Civil Rights Movement.” Thurman was a universalist, a mystic, a preacher, a scholar, a professor at Howard University and Boston University, pastor of the first intentionally interracial congregation in the United States (the Church for the Fellowship of All People in San Francisco), and one of the most influential African Americans of the last century. He had a profound impact on Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. In his 1949 work, Jesus and the Disinherited, Thurman offered an emancipatory way of moving forward for people with their backs against the wall facing the three hounds of hell: fear, deceit and hatred.
While Wright-Riggins served as Director of Peace with Justice Ministries for the Southern Christian Leadership Conference of Greater Los Angeles, he had the opportunity to meet Howard Thurman and study his works shortly before Thurman’s death in 1981.
Rev. Wright-Riggins addressed us on January 16 about confronting fear and again on May 15, the day after the supermarket shooting in Buffalo, NY about the the corrosive effects of deceit. Today, he will address how we, as human beings, and as Unitarian Universalists guided by our Seven Principles, can and should respond to the hatred that still boils around us, and how we can work, as Thomas Paine suggested, to “begin the world over again.”