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Visions of a Better World: Howard Thurman's Pilgrimage to India and the Origins of African American Nonviolence

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Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

In 1935, at the height of his powers, Howard Thurman, one of the most influential African American religious thinkers of the twentieth century, took a pivotal trip to India that would forever change him and that would ultimately shape the course of the civil rights movement in the United States.

When Thurman (1899 1981) became the first African American to meet with Mahatma Gandhi, he found himself called upon to create a new version of American Christianity, one that eschewed self-imposed racial and religious boundaries, and equipped itself to confront the enormous social injustices that plagued the United States during this period. Gandhi's philosophy and practice of satyagraha, or soul force, would have a momentous impact on Thurman, showing him the effectiveness of nonviolent resistance.

After the journey to India, Thurman's distinctly American translation of satyagraha into a Black Christian context became one of the key inspirations for the civil rights movement, fulfilling Gandhi's prescient words that it may be through the Negroes that the unadulterated message of nonviolence will be delivered to the world. Thurman went on to found one of the first explicitly interracial congregations in the United States and to deeply influence an entire generation of black ministers among them Martin Luther King Jr.

Visions of a Better World depicts a visionary leader at a transformative moment in his life. Drawing from previously untapped archival material and obscurely published works, Quinton Dixie and Peter Eisenstadt explore, for the first time, Thurman's development into a towering theologian who would profoundly affect American Christianity and American history.

Visions of a Better World brings back all the memories of my time with Howard Thurman I feel like I am once again listening to him, feeling his presence. We had many talks at his home in San Francisco. His requirement was two hours, preferably three, and no phone calls. These talks were among the most inspiring and instructive moments of my life. His mentoring was spiritual, practical, and mystical. It influences my life to the present day.

Vernon E. Jordan Jr., senior managing director, Lazard Freres & Co., LLC

Dixie and Eisenstadt have given us a true gift. This magisterial book distills the life of Howard Thurman, revealing the depth of his influence on the African American freedom struggle and the power of his faith. Howard Thurman always seemed a step ahead. And this account of his trip to India and embrace of Gandhi is just another example of his prophetic vision. Visions of a Better World takes the reader on an extraordinary journey: one can't help but be transfixed and transformed by Thurman's witness.

Eddie S. Glaude Jr., Princeton University, author of In a Shade of Blue: Pragmatism and the Politics of Black America

Howard Thurman was one of the great prophetic minds and spirits of the twentieth century and this wonderful book does justice to his formation. Don't miss it

Cornel West, Princeton University, author of Race Matters

Reveling in the complexity of Thurman's thought and his actions, this book eloquently blends intellectual history and biography and restores Thurman to his rightful place as one of the twentieth century's most brilliant and influential religious thinkers. Thurman's early engagements in India and the wider world deeply affected his ideas and his actions as a prophet, a religious leader, and a political visionary. This book deserves a special place in the long intellectual prehistory of the civil rights movement and African American politics.

Barbara D. Savage, University of Pennsylvania, author of Your Spirits Walk Beside Us: The Politics of Black Religion

An enlightening, engaging saga that expands our understanding of the global creation of the African American intellectual tradition . . . The book provides us with powerful lessons necessary for today's turbulent world.

Graham Russell Gao Hodges, Colgate University, author of David Ruggles: A Radical Black Abolitionist and the Underground Railroad in New York City

There are too few works that expertly illuminate the luminous life and thought of Howard Thurman. This perceptive and learned book by Quinton Dixie and Peter Eisenstadt goes a long way toward remedying that situation.

Gary Dorrien, Union Theological Seminary, author of Economy, Difference, Empire:

Review:

"Historians Dixie and Eisenstadt offer an admirably focused portrait of the oft-overlooked African-American intellectual, mystic, orator, minister, teacher, and philosopher Howard Thurman (1899 — 1981). Concentrating on a formative six-month trip Thurman undertook to India marked by an auspicious meeting with Mahatma Gandhi, the authors delineate how Thurman's brand of theology and philosophy emerged from a desire to reconcile individual spiritual experience and transcendence with broad social change — and how his thinking and teaching inspired a generation of more widely recognized civil rights leaders. In thoughtful, eloquent prose, the authors juxtapose Thurman's experiences of racism in the U.S. — being refused service at a hotel where he was delivering a lecture — and lyrical epiphanies while traveling, such as glimpsing Mt. Everest emerge from the parted clouds in the foothills of the Himalayas. Moreover, the authors show how both sets of experiences worked to inform Thurman's life without overpowering his intellect, which remained consistently nuanced, measured, and guided toward answering the question of whether 'spiritual unity among people could be more compelling than the experiences which divide them.' (Aug.)" Publishers Weekly Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

Book News Annotation:

This is a biography of African-American theologian and educator Howard Thurman (1899-1981). The authors (academics affiliated with the Howard Thurman Papers Project) focus particularly on Thurman's 1935 trip to India and meeting with Mohandas K. ("Mahatma") Gandhi, arguing that the meeting played a key role in the evolution of Thurman's intellectual and spiritual life and allowed him to fashion a distinctly African-American approach to nonviolence and civil disobedience that would prove to be extremely influential on the civil rights movement in the years following. Annotation ©2011 Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)

Synopsis:

In 1935, at the height of his powers, Howard Thurman, one of the most influential African American religious thinkers of the twentieth century, took a pivotal trip to India that would forever change him—and that would ultimately shape the course of the civil rights movement in the United States.

 

When Thurman (1899–1981) became the first African American to meet with Mahatma Gandhi, he found himself called upon to create a new version of American Christianity, one that eschewed self-imposed racial and religious boundaries, and equipped itself to confront the enormous social injustices that plagued the United States during this period. Gandhi’s philosophy and practice of satyagraha, or “soul force,” would have a momentous impact on Thurman, showing him the effectiveness of nonviolent resistance.

 

After the journey to India, Thurman’s distinctly American translation of satyagraha into a Black Christian context became one of the key inspirations for the civil rights movement, fulfilling Gandhi’s prescient words that “it may be through the Negroes that the unadulterated message of nonviolence will be delivered to the world.” Thurman went on to found one of the first explicitly interracial congregations in the United States and to deeply influence an entire generation of black ministers—among them Martin Luther King Jr.

 

Visions of a Better World depicts a visionary leader at a transformative moment in his life. Drawing from previously untapped archival material and obscurely published works, Quinton Dixie and Peter Eisenstadt explore, for the first time, Thurman’s development into a towering theologian who would profoundly affect American Christianity—and American history.

Synopsis:

The first biographical exploration of one of the most important African American religious thinkers of the twentieth century--Howard Thurman--and of the pivotal trip he took to India that ultimately shaped the course of the civil rights movement.

In 1935, Howard Thurman took a trip to India that would forever change him. He became the first African American to meet with Mahatma Gandhi and found himself called to create a version of American Christianity that was intolerant of self-imposed racial and religious boundaries. Deeply influenced by Gandhi's philosophy and practice of satyagraha, his translation of the idea into a Black Christian context became one of the key tenets of the civil rights movement, influencing an entire generation of black ministers--most notably Martin Luther King, Jr. Visions of a Better World explores this pivotal trip and its effect on the very shape of the civil rights tradition. Drawing from previously untapped archival material and obscurely published works, Quinton Dixie and Peter Eisenstadt outline, for the first time, Thurman's development into the towering theologian who would so profoundly influence the epochal shift in U.S. race relations in the mid-twentieth century.

About the Author

Quinton Dixie and Peter Eisenstadt are two of the country's leading experts on Howard Thurman. They are both senior volume editors of the Howard Thurman Papers Project and have extensive backgrounds in African American history and religious history. Dixie is assistant professor of religious studies at Indiana University-Purdue University at Fort Wayne. He holds MA and PhD degrees in religious studies and American church history, respectively, from Union Theological Seminary. He is coauthor, with Juan Williams, of This Far by Faith, and is coeditor, with Cornel West, of The Courage to Hope. Eisenstadt is an independent historian with a PhD in history from New York University. He is the author or editor of six books, including Rochdale Village, Encyclopedia of African American Culture and History, and Black Conservatism. He is also the associate editor of The Papers of Howard Washington Thurman, Vols. I-III.

Table of Contents

Foreword by Walter Earl Fluker

Introduction

1 Southern Boy, Morehouse Man, Rochester Scholar

2 Starting a Career

3 Planning the Pilgrimage of Friendship

4 The Negro Delegation in India

5 What Thurman Learned from India

6 Thurman’s War and the Creation of the Fellowship Church

Epilogue: Martin Luther King Jr. and Jesus and the Disinherited

Acknowledgments

Notes

Index

Product Details

ISBN:
9780807000458
Author:
Dixie, Quinton Hosford
Publisher:
Beacon Press (MA)
Author:
Dixie, Quinton
Author:
Eisenstadt, Peter
Subject:
History
Subject:
Biography-Religious
Publication Date:
20110831
Binding:
HARDCOVER
Grade Level:
General/trade
Language:
English
Pages:
272
Dimensions:
9.28 x 6.3 x 0.95 in 1.2 lb

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Related Subjects

Biography » Religious
History and Social Science » African American Studies » General
History and Social Science » US History » 20th Century » General
Religion » Christianity » Baptist
Religion » Christianity » Church History » American
Religion » Comparative Religion » General
Religion » Western Religions » American Religion
Religion » Western Religions » Theology

Visions of a Better World: Howard Thurman's Pilgrimage to India and the Origins of African American Nonviolence New Hardcover
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$34.95 In Stock
Product details 272 pages Beacon Press - English 9780807000458 Reviews:
"Publishers Weekly Review" by , "Historians Dixie and Eisenstadt offer an admirably focused portrait of the oft-overlooked African-American intellectual, mystic, orator, minister, teacher, and philosopher Howard Thurman (1899 — 1981). Concentrating on a formative six-month trip Thurman undertook to India marked by an auspicious meeting with Mahatma Gandhi, the authors delineate how Thurman's brand of theology and philosophy emerged from a desire to reconcile individual spiritual experience and transcendence with broad social change — and how his thinking and teaching inspired a generation of more widely recognized civil rights leaders. In thoughtful, eloquent prose, the authors juxtapose Thurman's experiences of racism in the U.S. — being refused service at a hotel where he was delivering a lecture — and lyrical epiphanies while traveling, such as glimpsing Mt. Everest emerge from the parted clouds in the foothills of the Himalayas. Moreover, the authors show how both sets of experiences worked to inform Thurman's life without overpowering his intellect, which remained consistently nuanced, measured, and guided toward answering the question of whether 'spiritual unity among people could be more compelling than the experiences which divide them.' (Aug.)" Publishers Weekly Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
"Synopsis" by , In 1935, at the height of his powers, Howard Thurman, one of the most influential African American religious thinkers of the twentieth century, took a pivotal trip to India that would forever change him—and that would ultimately shape the course of the civil rights movement in the United States.

 

When Thurman (1899–1981) became the first African American to meet with Mahatma Gandhi, he found himself called upon to create a new version of American Christianity, one that eschewed self-imposed racial and religious boundaries, and equipped itself to confront the enormous social injustices that plagued the United States during this period. Gandhi’s philosophy and practice of satyagraha, or “soul force,” would have a momentous impact on Thurman, showing him the effectiveness of nonviolent resistance.

 

After the journey to India, Thurman’s distinctly American translation of satyagraha into a Black Christian context became one of the key inspirations for the civil rights movement, fulfilling Gandhi’s prescient words that “it may be through the Negroes that the unadulterated message of nonviolence will be delivered to the world.” Thurman went on to found one of the first explicitly interracial congregations in the United States and to deeply influence an entire generation of black ministers—among them Martin Luther King Jr.

 

Visions of a Better World depicts a visionary leader at a transformative moment in his life. Drawing from previously untapped archival material and obscurely published works, Quinton Dixie and Peter Eisenstadt explore, for the first time, Thurman’s development into a towering theologian who would profoundly affect American Christianity—and American history.

"Synopsis" by , The first biographical exploration of one of the most important African American religious thinkers of the twentieth century--Howard Thurman--and of the pivotal trip he took to India that ultimately shaped the course of the civil rights movement.

In 1935, Howard Thurman took a trip to India that would forever change him. He became the first African American to meet with Mahatma Gandhi and found himself called to create a version of American Christianity that was intolerant of self-imposed racial and religious boundaries. Deeply influenced by Gandhi's philosophy and practice of satyagraha, his translation of the idea into a Black Christian context became one of the key tenets of the civil rights movement, influencing an entire generation of black ministers--most notably Martin Luther King, Jr. Visions of a Better World explores this pivotal trip and its effect on the very shape of the civil rights tradition. Drawing from previously untapped archival material and obscurely published works, Quinton Dixie and Peter Eisenstadt outline, for the first time, Thurman's development into the towering theologian who would so profoundly influence the epochal shift in U.S. race relations in the mid-twentieth century.

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