After the Rallies, the Real Work

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Philadelphia March. Photo from the News and Observer

By Will O’Brien

The Wednesday following the violence in Charlottesville, I joined with thousands of people in Philadelphia, mostly persons of faith, to march in the streets and rally.  The energy was high, the anger was rife, and the sense of energy to change palpable.  As distressing as the events were that precipitated this march, it felt good to be there.

But it also stirred some long-standing concerns and questions of mine.  This was partly the result of recently picking up off the shelf my old copy of Will D. Campbell’s memoir Brother to a Dragonfly, a book that had a powerful impact on me when I first read it over thirty years ago.  Campbell was a Southern Baptist preacher from rural Tennessee who became an important leader in the civil rights movement.  As a white southern man, he was part of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference.  His radical understanding of the gospel and his own discernment of the racial crisis in his home region led him to the conviction that “Jesus died for the bigots as well,” and he took to a very controversial ministry among Ku Klux Klan members.  Ornery and wickedly funny, Campbell often cut through the pretensions and hypocrisies of many white liberal activists. Continue reading

The Moral Revival

william barberBy Will O’Brien

Several of us attended the “Repairers of the Breach” Moral Revival Tour with Rev. William Barber when it rolled into town on the opening night of the Democratic National Convention on July 25. Will O’Brien write the following short reflection (originally published on the Red Letter Christians blog.)

The Friends Central Meeting on Cherry Street in Center City Philadelphia has probably never reeled and rocked like it did on Monday night. Rev. William Barber from the Moral Mondays campaign in North Carolina brought his Moral Revival Tour to our city, slyly scheduling it just as the Democratic National Convention was starting to convene a few miles south at the Wells Fargo Center. Lots of spirited singing, praying, and mighty preaching, all geared toward the prophetic vision of justice. Continue reading