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Howard Thurman

Philosophy, Civil Rights, and the Search for Common Ground

Kipton E. Jensen



Published: Dec 3 2019


Published: Dec 3 2019

OA Ebook
Published: Dec 3 2019


The inclusion of this book in the Open Carolina collection is made possible by the generous funding of

Although he is best known as a mentor to the Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr., Howard Thurman (1900-1981) was an exceptional philosopher and public intellectual in his own right. In Howard Thurman: Philosophy, Civil Rights, and the Search for Common Ground, Kipton E. Jensen provides new ways of understanding Thurman's foundational role in and broad influence on the civil rights movement and argues persuasively that he is one of the unsung heroes of that time. While Thurman's profound influence on King has been documented, Jensen shows how Thurman's reach extended to an entire generation of activists.

Thurman espoused a unique brand of personalism. Jensen explicates Thurman's construction of a philosophy on nonviolence and the political power of love. Showing how Thurman was a "social activist mystic" as well as a pragmatist, Jensen explains how these beliefs helped provide the foundation for King's notion of the beloved community.

Throughout his life Thurman strove to create a climate of "inner unity of fellowship that went beyond the barriers of race, class, and tradition." In this volume Jensen meticulously documents and analyzes Thurman as a philosopher, activist, and peacemaker and illuminates his vital and founding role in and contributions to the monumental achievements of the civil rights era.

Kipton E. Jensen is an associate professor of philosophy at Morehouse College, the director of the Andrew Young Center for Global Leadership, and the codirector of the International Comparative Labor Studies program. He earned a doctorate in philosophy from Marquette University and was a Fulbright Scholar at Martin-Luther-Universität. Jensen is the author of Hegel: Hovering and Parallel Discourses and coeditor of Howard Thurman's Sermons on the Parables.

"Kipton Jensen has done a superb job here of extracting a philosophy from Howard Thurman's works. Sifting and sorting, from William James and Josiah Royce, from Benjamin Mays and Martin Luther King, from Gandhi and earlier Indian proponents of ahimsa and satyagraha, and from many other philosophers from the past and from later on, for instance James Cone, Cornell West, and Eddie Glaude, he has pictured Thurman as a significant American philosopher."—Robert Cummings Neville, Professor emeritus, Boston University

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