Friday Open Thread ~ "What are you reading?" edition ~ Will Campbell

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Rev. Campbell was reportedly the only white person present at the founding in 1957 of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, the civil rights organization then led by Martin Luther King Jr. and other major figures in the movement. Initially, some of the black organizers argued against admitting him.

“Let this man in,” said Bayard Rustin, one of the leaders, according to an account published in the Nashville Tennessean. “We need him.”

When King was assassinated in 1968 at the Lorraine Motel in Memphis, Rev. Campbell rushed to the scene. Photos captured by a photographer for Life magazine show him standing, weary and seemingly dumbstruck, on the hotel balcony and grieving with the black leaders left to carry on.

Later, Rev. Campbell drew criticism from some in the civil rights movement when he visited James Earl Ray, King’s assassin, in prison, and when he ministered to a Ku Klux Klan grand dragon in jail.

Appreciating Will Campbell, “Preacher to the Damned”

He is not a William Sloane Coffin. Nor is he Billy Graham. He is instead an odd and unsettling combination of the two -- a radical, slow-moving Bible-belt preacher with a hand-carved cane and a floppy Amish hat, meandering his way through the crises of life. He's developed a kind of cult-figure fame in American theology, partly through his books, but mostly through his unpretentious, one-man ministry to the nation's dispossessed. He's an ardent proponent of black civil rights, a friend to the bigots in the Ku Klux Klan, and, most recently, an unlikely champion for the men and women of death row.

He began in the 1950s with the issue of race. First as chaplain at the University of Mississippi, and later as a Deep South staffer for the National Council of Churches, he allied himself with the Civil Rights movement -- traveling the bumpy Southern backroads from one upheaval to the next, from Montgomery to Nashville to St. Augustine, Florida. It's hard to say exactly what he did. He was simply there, moving among the people and offering what he could. In 1957, for example, he was one of three white ministers with Elizabeth Eckford, walking by her side as she and eight other black teenagers made their way through the Little Rock mobs, braving taunts and rocks and bayonetted rifles, seeking to enroll in an all-white school.

Gradually, he became a friend to the leaders of the movement -- Andy Young, John Lewis, and Martin Luther King -- but also to the bright young radicals of lesser charisma, some of them filled with foolhardy courage, others simply quiet and determined, as they drifted into Selma or Marks, Mississippi, defying the wrath of the most brutal South. Campbell was awed by the bravery of it all, and yet he couldn't shake a feeling in the back of his mind -- a troublesome sense that however right and righteous it was, however important that the South be confronted with the sins of its history, there was something simplistic and shortsighted about the whole crusade, some failure to understand, as he would put it later, "that Mr. Jesus died for the bigots as well."

So he began to work the other side of the street, mingling with the racists and Klansmen, as well as the blacks, setting out from home in the early morning hours, rumbling through the Delta in his cherry-red pick-up. Armed with a guitar and a Bible and an occasional bottle of Tennessee whiskey, he would point himself toward the flat and muddy fields of Sunflower County, toward the straight and endless rows of picked-over cotton and the barbed-wire fences at Parchman Penitentiary.

The Reverend Will D. Campbell, a "renegade" Baptist preacher whose unorthodox ministry to a far-flung parish of unchurched souls was the signifying hallmark of his long pilgrimage out of the depression-wracked Deep South, died Monday, June 3, 2013, in Nashville from complications following a stroke. He was eighty-eight.

His career-long commitment to the biblically-remembered "least of these" earned for Campbell the praise of a broad range of individuals, from former President Jimmy Carter and country music icon Tom T. Hall to neighbors on his country road in middle Tennessee and inmates at the Riverbend Prison near Nashville.

"Brother Will, as he was called by so many of us who knew him, made his own indelible mark as a minister and social activist in service to marginalized people of every race, creed, and calling," Carter said. "He used the force of his words and the witness of his deeds to convey a healing message of reconciliation to any and all who heard him."

Hall, who on occasion turned his tour bus to the service of a motley brotherhood of Campbellites on good-deed missions in the southern outback, remembered those occasions and other forays with Campbell as "some of my best days on the road."

"Will was many things to us," he recalled. "Preacher, prophet, picker, poet. He had an uncanny way of making whoever gathered around him feel like they were part of the mix, no matter how much we differed among ourselves."

By Chris Hedges / Cancel Culture, Where Liberalism Goes to Die

The Rev. Will Campbell was forced out of his position as director of religious life at the University of Mississippi in 1956 because of his calls for integration. He escorted Black children through a hostile mob in 1957 to integrate Little Rock’s Central High School. He was the only white person that was invited to be part of the group that founded Martin Luther King Jr.’s Southern Christian Leadership Conference. He helped integrate Nashville’s lunch counters and organize the Freedom Rides.

But Campbell was also, despite a slew of death threats he received from white segregationists, an unofficial chaplain to the local chapter of the Ku Klux Klan. He denounced and publicly fought the Klan’s racism, acts of terror and violence and marched with Black civil rights protestors in his native Mississippi, but he steadfastly refused to “cancel” white racists out of his life. He refused to demonize them as less than human. He insisted that this form of racism, while evil, was not as insidious as a capitalist system that perpetuated the economic misery and instability that pushed whites into the ranks of violent, racist organizations.

“During the civil rights movement, when we were developing strategies, someone usually said, ‘Call Will Campbell. Check with Will,’” Rep. John Lewis wrote in the introduction to the new edition of Campbell’s memoir “Brother to a Dragonfly,” one of the most important books I read as a seminarian. “Will knew that the tragedy of Southern history had fallen on our opponents as well as our allies … on George Wallace and Bull Connor as well as Rosa Parks and Fred Shuttlesworth. He saw that it had created the Ku Klux Klan as well as the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee. That insight led Will to see racial healing and equity, pursued through courage, love, and faith as the path to spiritual liberation for all.”

Jimmy Carter wrote of Campbell that he “tore down the walls that separated white and black Southerners.” And because the Black Panther organizer Fred Hampton was doing the same thing in Chicago, the FBI — which, along with the CIA, is the de facto ally of the liberal elites in their war against Trump and his supporters — assassinated him.

When the town Campbell lived in decided the Klan should not be permitted to have a float in the Fourth of July parade Campbell did not object, as long as the gas and electric company was also barred. It was not only white racists that inflicted suffering on the innocent and the vulnerable, but institutions that place the sanctity of profit before human life.

“People can’t pay their gas and electric bills, the heat gets turned off and they freeze and sometimes die, especially if they are elderly,” he said. “This, too, is an act of terrorism.”

“Theirs you could see and deal with, and if they broke the law, you could punish them,” he said of the Klan. “But the larger culture that was, and still is, racist to the core is much more difficult to deal with and has a more sinister influence.”

Campbell would have reminded us that the demonization of the Trump supporters who stormed the capital is a terrible mistake. He would have reminded us that racial injustice will only be solved with economic justice. He would have called on us to reach out to those who do not think like us, do not speak like us, are ridiculed by polite society, but who suffer the same economic marginalization. He knew that the disparities of wealth, loss of status and hope for the future, coupled with prolonged social dislocation, generated the poisoned solidarity that give rise to groups such as the Klan or the Proud Boys.

We cannot heal wounds we refuse to acknowledge.

Birmingham, April 12, 1963

"In Birmingham . . . Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and several other ministers were arrested, fire hoses were turned on demonstrators with such force that their only defense was to lie flat on the streets, letting the velocity of the water roll them along like seashells at high tide. Police dogs were used on marchers, including schoolchildren. It was the year four little girls were murdered at their prayers when a bomb exploded in the Sixteenth Street Baptist Church. President Kennedy expressed Americans’ 'deep sense of outrage and grief,' but the crime was never solved."

From Brother to a Dragonfly by Will D. Campbell

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QMS's picture

Some good news from Bolivia

BREAKING: Bolivia has cancelled and returned the full sum of the US $346.7 Million IMF loan taken out by the coup regime, in rejection of IMF impositions on internal economic policy.

As of February 2021, the loan had already racked up $24.3 Million in interest and commissions.
(since 2019).

Good for them!

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enhydra lutris's picture

@QMS

brightened my day. That's what today's pseudophilanthropists should be doing with their zillions, freeing countries to try to restore their economies. One cannot jump start an economy when one's hands are tied by the abhorrent terms and conditions inposed by the world's sleaziest and most sinister loan shark, terms designed to confine a nation and its populace inside the walls poverty and outside exploitation.

be well and have a good one

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That, in its essence, is fascism--ownership of government by an individual, by a group, or by any other controlling private power. -- Franklin D. Roosevelt --

thanatokephaloides's picture

@QMS

BREAKING: Bolivia has cancelled and returned the full sum of the US $346.7 Million IMF loan taken out by the coup regime, in rejection of IMF impositions on internal economic policy.

emphasis mine

Now there's some "cancel culture" I can get into! Smile

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"I say enough! If Israel wants to be the only superpower in the Middle East then they can put their own asses on the line and do it themselves. I want to continue to eat."
-- snoopydawg

enhydra lutris's picture

journals here.

We have rain again today, keeping me inside and out of the yard and garden, but it is sorely needed and the buckets and converted trash cans I set out still aren't full, so let it rain I guess.

Have errands to run, which sucks, because rainy days bring out all those with errands to run and jam up the works. Such is life, as the man said.

So, today is a grim and bleak day in history, with Roman Emperor Constantius II ordering the closing of all pagan temples in the year 356; the first steps toward the christo-fascist interregnum that existed in much of Europe for a while and which so many would love to resuscitate.

be well and have a good one

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That, in its essence, is fascism--ownership of government by an individual, by a group, or by any other controlling private power. -- Franklin D. Roosevelt --

Raggedy Ann's picture

What am I reading? Well, I'm reading about how Texas - that whole other country - is paying dearly for being that whole other country. Nothing could please me more - not for the suffering people, but for the knuckleheads that think their shit doesn't stink. It does stink and now the whole state is smelling it.

Click on the link if you're so inclined. If you're not so inclined - just guess what it says.
https://www.msn.com/en-us/news/us/texas-the-go-it-alone-state-is-rattled...

Enjoy the day! Pleasantry

Edited to add the link to this article which cracked me up - the falling American empire is being noticed by others - GASP!
https://www.usnews.com/news/national-news/articles/2021-02-18/an-ordinar...

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The UFO’s are coming to unify us.

mimi's picture

Yes, they are. I grew up in the fiftes and sixties in a household, in which my father read in the evenings in bed political books. He got many gifts from his friends he made during WWII and after in Russian POW camps. I found letters from them and how they kept their friendships for a lifetime.

My sister was also an addicted reader, but never political or other non-fiction books, always fiction. My brother read almost nothing. My mother read garden books and created a beautiful garden therefore.

I read the books about the holocaust, always history or political books of Germany's evil past, as of age 12.

During my student years I did not read much, had too much lab work, too much studying, too much real life stuff to deal with, so it was only some science books, mainly chemistry.

Then I left Germany and some years that followed without much reading til the internet and the www came into being. in 1994 it struck me. The www could be a fantastic medium to search for books, sell books and buy books online. So I was playing with it. After getting sober and giving up on selling books, I started buying them, online, instead.

Someone mentioned a book on dailykos which triggered my interest, I bought it. So for all books I bought, dailykos writers and commentators are to blame for it. Wink

Amazon made it so cheap and easy to buy used books through them. I couldn't resist. From where I came from, people thought books are something one should respect, read and own and keep. So, I did, just the reading fell through the cracks. I slipped into the working class and minority deplorable category. There was little time and strength left to read in the evenings. I fell asleep too soon.

So, it took a long time, til I realized that the books in our household (my fathers, my sisters, my nieces and mine) are a burden. I estimate over 5000 books in the house. Other than my own I have no permission to get rid of them. Unfortunately I unpacked my own.

I have no body strength anymore to 'schleppen' (carry) book boxes from attic to first floor to main florr to basement. I hate the books now with a passion. They are everywhere, too many to sort, too many for all the shelves I already bought. Too many shelves and too little wall space to attach them to.

So, books, 'ihr könnt mir mal'

It is way harder to get rid of books than to get them. They are delivered if you get them, but who picks them up to take them away for you?. Nobody, at least not for free. (Mr. Amazon-Besoz was was the only one smarter. I remember how he started his book business. He went into house, where the owners died and bought off their personal libraries, then listed them online and sold them. I remember well him explaining it that way, back in the time, no kidding).

And then how am I supposed to live with a shamed conscience of having get rid of books, that's not what people around here think is acceptable or honorable. Shame on you, NOT reading books, shame on you GETTING RID of books.

So, I live in infamy of having become a book-hating book lover. And people put me down for it, mocking me because I am so 'well-read', yeah, those a**holes can put their arrogant behavior up their own a*+holes.

End of rant.

Oh yean, I don't buy books anymore and am proud of it !!!

So, I guess you get the picture, I didn't read anything today. And I dream of the day to come when I will. I will free myself out of these conditions and WILL READ WILL CAMPBELL.

Have a good day all. Stay warm dry and healthy.

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"heh, as they say, if you don't dig the blues, you got a hole in your soul" - JS

enhydra lutris's picture

@mimi

one there, and it would take forever, but people would put "Free book" lavels on the covers and inside covers, saying this is a free book, read it and pass it on and leave them on the seats of buses, light rail, BART and other public transport, as well as on chairs and tables in restaurants and coffee shops.

Here, one can take them to the library and donate them to the friends of the library who will then sell them at well publicized periodic sales and give the funds to the libraries to help make up for the miserly funding they get in the county budget. And some, of course, can be offloaded to bookstores devoted to studenten, provided theat they are suitable.

be well and have a good one

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That, in its essence, is fascism--ownership of government by an individual, by a group, or by any other controlling private power. -- Franklin D. Roosevelt --

mimi's picture

@enhydra lutris
libraries don't take them, We have a bookstore of the "Arbeiterwohlfahrt" (I would compare it to the Salvation Army over there) in our town. They said they may take one or two boxes. That was two years ago. Meanwhile the store is gone for good too.

You can't just leave a book on a seat in trains or a bus and I would need a solution for hundreds of books.

A sister-in-law is a librarian and she told me, that some people leave boxes in front of the library. The books then started to grow feet and wandered away. But my books are in English, so that I guess they would - if at all - just limp away.

She told me 90-thousand books are published each year. Smile

I just go slowly throwing some away each week or so and they get into the container for "Restmüll" as they are called, these are the trash containers for most of the stuff that is not glas, metal, or plants.

And besides I am approaching 'reading age' now and hope to read a couple. May be I write about a book if I have read it ... who knows. Wink

Have a good one and be well.

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"heh, as they say, if you don't dig the blues, you got a hole in your soul" - JS

of energy in Texas. The cost of a megawatt jumped from $50 to $9,000. Energy companies increased it before the freeze.
I have no idea if this is permanent or an emergency cost. Will find more info as the day goes along.
We will have a hard freeze tonight, so plumbing repair to restore water to my home will be done tomorrow. I believe I have all the plumbing parts for the repair stored out in my barn. Fingers crossed.
An 11 year old boy likely froze to death in his home 32 miles away. Rich people's homes didn't lose a split second of power. The idea life and death is decided by some pompous, greedy energy company executives, is the latest display of capitalism at its' finest.
Maybe this is that much needed wake up call for the 99%.

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snoopydawg's picture

I haven't seen this yet and well it is cool. We landed on Mars and in an epic way. Now let's work on fixing the earth and stopping the great insect die off and reverse the damage. It can be done, but it will take bringing the troops home, stopping the military from dropping bombs everywhere and melt the swords, guns, jets, ect into plowshares and put the money into fixing the damage. Pipe dream, but I am not the only one that dreams of peace someday....and before the US empire expires. Shades of the opening scenes of V for Vendetta.

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Sam killed Mr. Hanky Santa Poo

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magiamma's picture

at nasa.gov

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Stop Climate Change Silence - Start the Conversation

Hot Air Website, Twitter, Facebook

magiamma's picture

I am reading a book about the life of Abraham Lincoln that was written in 1930. Just beginning but looks to be a real page turner if you are into that kind of thing

take good care everyone

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Stop Climate Change Silence - Start the Conversation

Hot Air Website, Twitter, Facebook

Granma's picture

Just a little while ago. Very thankful to be able to access news, email and this site. I hope to read and catch up later today.
I have deep sympathy for those without power and water. I am very thankful I was able to go where there was power and heat when mine went out.

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snoopydawg's picture

@Granma

I’ve been thinking of you and hope you were still at your kid’s house. Look at the tweet I posted in the EBs on Portland.

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Sam killed Mr. Hanky Santa Poo

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snoopydawg's picture

Provo took the top spot away from San Francisco, which fell out of the top 10 in the nonprofit think tank's annual rankings. Salt Lake City checked in at No. 4 on the list, and Ogden jumped all the way from No. 22 last year to No. 9 for 2021.

And that's just on the "large cities" list. Utah also fared well on the small cities index, placing both Logan and St. George inside the top five. Idaho Falls took the top spot among small cities.

The 2021 top 10 large metros list is led by Provo-Orem, followed by Palm Bay, Florida; Austin, Texas; Salt Lake City; Raleigh, North Carolina; Boise; Phoenix; Nashville, Tennessee; Ogden-Clearfield; and Huntsville, Alabama.

I might start looking for a house in Logan. I thought of naming Sam Logan or Morgan, but they didn't fit her. I'd love to live in Morgan too, but it is hard to find homes for sale there that are affordable.

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Sam killed Mr. Hanky Santa Poo

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snoopydawg's picture

Pfizer wants to store vaccine at higher temperatures, making distribution easier

Pfizer and BioNTech have asked the U.S. health regulator to relax requirements for their COVID-19 vaccine to be stored at ultra-low temperatures, potentially allowing it to be kept in pharmacy freezers, they said on Friday.

Approval by the Food and Drug Administration could send a strong signal to other regulators around the world that may ease distribution of the shot in lower-income countries.

Well except that they are now saying that only one shot is needed and only half a shot at that. This news will definitely help. /s

A BioNTech spokeswoman declined to provide more details on the timing and which agencies would be contacted.

"The data submitted may facilitate the handling of our vaccine in pharmacies and provide vaccination centers an even greater flexibility," BioNTech Chief Executive Ugur Sahin said.

If approved, the less onerous storage requirements would provide significant logistical relief for the rollout of the vaccine worldwide, particularly in lower-income countries.

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Sam killed Mr. Hanky Santa Poo

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snoopydawg's picture

Unnamed sources have said that Americans close to the Biden team quietly but informally began last November talking to some Iranian leaders to rekindle diplomacy over the agreement.

Wasn’t that why Flynn got in trouble? For talking to Russia during the transition. That someone could write that sentence and not mention Flynn is a failure of journalism. Or subtle hypocrisy.

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Sam killed Mr. Hanky Santa Poo

E9C51B0A-05F9-4128-8CB6-228B891C477D.jpeg