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Howard Thurman and the Disinherited
A Religious Biography
HARDCOVER; Published: 10/27/2020
ISBN: 978-0-8028-7677-5
Price: $ 28.99
256 Pages
Trim Size, in inches: 6 x 9
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Series: Library of Religious Biography

Teacher. Minister. Theologian. Writer. Mystic. Activist. No single label can capture the multiplicity of Howard Thurman’s life, but his influence is written all over the most significant aspects of the Civil Rights movement. In 1936, he visited Mahatma Gandhi in India and subsequently brought Gandhi’s concept of nonviolent resistance across the globe to the United States. Later, through his book Jesus and the Disinherited, he foresaw a theology of American liberation based on the life of Jesus as a dispossessed Jew under Roman rule. 

Paul Harvey’s biography of Thurman speaks to the manifold ways this mystic theologian and social activist sought to transform the world to better reflect “that which is God in us,” despite growing up in the South during the ugliest years of Jim Crow. After founding one of the first intentionally interracial churches in the country—The Church for the Fellowship of All Peoples in San Francisco—he shifted into a mentorship role with Martin Luther King Jr. and other Civil Rights leaders. He advised them to incorporate more inward seeking and rest into their activism, while also thinking of their struggle for racial equality in a more cosmopolitan, universalist manner. 

Few historical figures represent such diverse parts of the American religious tradition as Howard Thurman did. By telling the story of his religious lives, Paul Harvey gives the reader a window into many of the main currents of twentieth-century American religious expression.

Table of Contents

Chapter 1
“My People Need Me”: The Education of Howard Thurman

Chapter 2
“The Unadulterated Message of Nonviolence”: Howard University and the Voyage to India

Chapter 3
The Affirmation Mystic in Action: Thurman’s Philosophical Explorations, 1936–1944

Chapter 4
The Great Adventure in San Francisco

Chapter 5
Triumph and Turmoil in Boston

Chapter 6
The Wider Ministry

Chapter 7
Thurman’s Influence and Afterlives

Publishers Weekly (starred review)
“This should go far to raise the profile of a lesser-known spiritual leader whose writings, sermons, and mentorship helped lay the foundation for the civil rights movement.”
“Although celebrated during his lifetime, Thurman’s star went into eclipse following his death. Surely this judicious, insightful biography will help restore its lost luster.”