Kingdom of God 4-14-09 Wednesday (22nd) 7:00 McLeod Hall Perkins Talk John Perkins Perkins? story is missing from most histories of the Civil Rights Movement. Why? John Perkins is a very difficult figure to place into a familiar category He is not just an iconoclast, but he is a rich gumbo of black nationalist self reliance, bible-centered piety, Anabaptist peacemaking, mainline evangelical Christianity, and a pro-business, pro-Life, campaigning attitude. It?s been difficult for the left wing members of the civil rights establishment to look without suspicion at Perkins Three Parts: 1. Brief Summary of Civil Rights Background to Perkins Vision 2. John Perkins and the Civil Rights Movement, his engagement 3. Perkins and his vision of the unfinished business of the Civil Rights Movement Civil Rights Background: Mainline white evangelicals are more comfortable with Perkins than King, but this is a profound misunderstanding of John Perkins. Perkins makes it clear that the vision laid out by King is a legitimate vision given my God to the churches of North America Perkins understands Kings articulation as the kind of laying out of the plotline of the Civil Rights Movement, which is a story that includes all people who joined the pursuit of Beloved Community Beloved community is the realization of Divine love in lived social relation; it is the way of talking about the passion to make human life and social existence a parable of God?s love poured out for the world (Agape love in Jesus Christ) Agape love could be applied directly to social and political realities of the world (Kings belief) Victory Gray Adams described SNCC at its best as the ?in-fleshened Church? with its commitment to nonviolence, incarnational organizing and racial reconciliation SNCCs demise continues to frustrate the possibilities for interracial relations today What should be done with the idea of Beloved Community after the late 1960s? In 1970, one would think that the South had changed in visible and important ways, the white South had not changed its daily social rituals of its Jim Crow heritage White racism had not been resolved as a result of removing the legal structures of Southern segregation John Perkins and the Civil Rights Movement In the fall of 1969 John Perkins organized a selective buying campaign against white businesses that continued to discriminate against African Americans Perkins was an unlikely person to lead this boycott Perkins was born and raised in Mississippi under the conditions of the Jim Crow South He had seen his older brother murdered by a redneck sheriff deputy in a small town A decorated war vet who had enjoyed the progressive freedoms the military offered on the European front, gunned down by an ignorant overweight sheriff? Decided it was time to leave Moved away from the restrictions of Jim Crow to California Worked himself up to a white collar position in Southern California, a place free of the ghosts from Mississippi Through his son Spenser, he began going to Church and had a conversion experience In 1960, after he?d thrived in Ca for 10-12 years and had met some white Christians, he began to have a nagging sense that he was being called back to Mississippi The summer of 1960, the Perkins family drove back to Mississippi from LA Perkins did not come back because they wanted to be Civil Rights activists, they were aware of King?s presence, but there was no SNCC in Mississippi, no Freedom movements They were called back because they believed the problem with Southern segregation was not the oppressive social structures of Jim Crow, but a lack of education and being grounded in solid fundamentalist biblical knowledge. Perkins returns to Mississippi to convert poor blacks and help them achieve a degree of biblical literacy with the expectation that doing so would equip them with the skills to become independent
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