Archive for the ‘United Nations’ Tag

Feast of Marian Anderson (February 29)   3 comments

Above:  Marian Anderson Performing at the Lincoln Memorial, 1939

Image in the Public Domain

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MARIAN ANDERSON FISHER (FEBRUARY 27, 1897-APRIL 8, 1993)

African-American Singer and Civil Rights Activist

Marian Anderson comes to this, A Great Cloud of Witnesses:  An Ecumenical Calendar of Saints’ Days and Holy Days, via G. Scott Cady and Christopher L. Webber, A Year with American Saints (2006).

Anderson grew up in a devout Christian home.  She, born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, on February 27, 1897, was one of three daughters of Annie Delilah Rucker (1874-1964) and John Berkeley Anderson (c. 1872-1910).  Annie, who did not have a college degree, had taught in Virginia.  She could not teach in Pennsylvania, however; a state law barred African Americans (yet not whites) without a college degree from teaching.  So Annie took care of children for a living.  John sold coal and ice at the Reading Terminal in Philadelphia.  Eventually, he added another source of revenue–selling liquor.  The Andersons were active in Union Baptist Church, South Philadelphia.  All three daughters sang.  Our saint joined the church’s junior choir when she was six years old.  She joined the People’s Chorus in the city four years later.  Marian performed solos in both choirs.

Church and family helped Anderson achieve her potential.  Her father died when she was 12 years old.  Annie and the three daughters moved in with John’s parents.  In 1912 our saint graduated from Stanton Grammar School, but her family could not afford to send her to high school and to take music lessons.  Anderson’s church eventually paid for her to take music lessons and to attend South Philadelphia High School.  Our saint graduated in 1921.

Racism proved to be a professional obstacle for Anderson in the United States.  She, rejected from the Philadelphia Music Academy because of her skin color, studied music privately.  In 1925 our saint won a contest in New York Philharmonic sponsored.  The prize was a concert, at which she performed with the orchestra.  The date of that concert was August 26, 1925.  Anderson continued to study music privately.  She performed at Carnegie Hall for the first time in 1928.  Our saint’s career outside her native country was more successful than in the United States.  In 1937 she was in Princeton, New Jersey, to perform in Princeton, New Jersey.  When a hotel turned Anderson away because of her race, Professor Albert Einstein invited her to be his guest.  This was not the last time Anderson spent time with the Einstein family.

Perhaps Anderson’s most famous concert was her performance at the Lincoln Memorial, in 1939.  The Daughters of the American Revolution had denied our saint the opportunity to sing at Constitution Hall, Washington, D.C.  First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt arranged for a larger, better venue instead.  Anderson finally sang at Constitution Hall in 1943.

Anderson was a trailblazer.  She performed the role of Ulrica in Verdi’s Un Ballo in Maschera at the Metropolitan Opera, New York City.  In so doing, our saint became the first African American to perform for that opera company.  The intensely patriotic vocalist, who entertained military personnel during World War II and the Korean War, also performed at President Dwight Eisenhower’s second inauguration (1957) and President John F. Kennedy’s inauguration (1961).  Eisenhower appointed Anderson to the United Nations Human Rights Committee (1958f).  Furthermore, our saint, active in the Civil Rights Movement, received a Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1963.

Anderson married architect Orpheus H. Fisher (1900-1986) on July 17, 1943.  She thereby became the stepmother of Fisher’s son, James.  Our saint, who lived on a farm near Danbury, Connecticut, from 1940 to 1992, retired on April 10, 1965, the date of her last performance at Carnegie Hall.

Anderson moved to Portland, Oregon, to reside with her nephew, James DePriest, a conductor in 1992.  She died in that city on April 8, 1993.  Our saint was 96 years old.

Anderson had a simple, non-judgmental faith she learned from her mother.  She trusted in God without condemning people whose theology differed from hers.  God, as our saint understood God, was loving and providential.

Marian Anderson’s life spanned decades of much cultural and legal change, especially regarding matters of race.  She helped to create some of that change; our saint did her part to leave the world and the United States of America better than they had been.  Events of the last few years have proven (as if anyone needed evidence) that any talk of the “death of racism” is ridiculous.

The work of fighting racism has fallen to those of us who still have pulses.  May we do our parts, so that those who follow us chronologically will have less work to do in this arena than they would otherwise.

I remember the casual racism around which I grew up.  My parents raised me to reject racism, but many people around me had a different attitude.  Seldom did any of these racists–classmates or some of my father’s parishioners, usually–bother to use code words in lieu of slurs.  I recall know that this language and the bias behind it were wrong.  Yet I also know that some of that racism rubbed off on me, as if by osmosis.  Some thoughts I know to be immoral occur sometimes.  Only God and I know when this happens, for I never express these thoughts.  No, I confess them to God and seek forgiveness.  I entertain the better angels of my nature.

The beginning of resisting racism in society, an institution, a community, et cetera, is choosing not to cave into it as it manifests withing oneself, unless one is a rare person who lacks any trace of racism.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

OCTOBER 7, 2019 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF WILHELM WEXELS, NORWEGIAN LUTHERAN MINISTER, HYMN WRITER, AND HYMN TRANSLATOR; HIS NIECE, MARIE WEXELSEN, NORWEGIAN LUTHERAN NOVELIST AND HYMN WRITER; LUDWIG LINDEMAN, NORWEGIAN LUTHERAN ORGANIST AND MUSICOLOGIST; AND MAGNUS LANDSTAD, NORWEGIAN LUTHERAN MINISTER, FOLKLORIST, HYMN WRITER, AND HYMNAL EDITOR

THE FEAST OF BRADFORD TORREY, U.S. ORNITHOLOGIST AND HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF JOHANN GOTTFRIED WEBER, GERMAN MORAVIAN MUSICIAN, COMPOSER, AND MINISTER

THE FEAST OF JOHN WOOLMAN, QUAKER ABOLITIONIST

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Holy and righteous God, you created us in your image.

Grant us grace to contend fearlessly against evil and to make no peace with oppression.

Help us, like your servant Marian Anderson,

to work for justice among people and nations,

to the glory of your name, through Jesus Chris, our Savior and Lord,

who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.  Amen.

Hosea 2:18-23

Psalm 94:1-15

Romans 12:9-21

Luke 6:20-36

–Adapted from Evangelical Lutheran Worship (2006), 60

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Feast of Milner Ball (April 6)   Leave a comment

Image Source = University of Georgia Law School Tribute Page

(Link located in this post)

MILNER SHIVERS BALL (APRIL 10-1936-APRIL 6, 2011)

Presbyterian Minister, Law Professor, Witness for Civil Rights, Humanitarian

From time to time one finds one’s self in the company of greatness.  The greatest of people are those who improve the lives of others, often facing scorn for part or much of their efforts.  Years and decades later, admirers speak of how courageous these great people were, but such high praise was scarce at the time.

Born in Atlanta, Georgia, in 1936, and educated in Georgia and Tennessee public schools, Milner Ball earned his A.B. degree from Princeton University and his Master of Divinity from Harvard University.  A man possessed of a keen intellect and deep Christian faith, he studied with Karl Barth and became a Presbyterian minister.  Lifelong concerns for social justice led Ball to support causes usually described as liberal.  In the 1960s, for example he was openly pro-civil rights.  After a stint as pastor in Manchester, Tennessee, he became the Presbyterian campus minister at The University of Georgia (UGA).  There his demonstrated belief in racial equality aroused much opposition at the recently (1962) integrated campus.  The last straw, however, came when Ball became a delegate to the 1968 Democratic National Convention, but not as a member of the Lester Maddox-approved delegation.  Ball, joined the Julian Bond-led delegation instead.

Ball, fired from his position, entered law school and commenced a career of public service via the law.  Graduating first in his class from the UGA Law School, Ball served as former U.S. Secretary of State Dean Rusk’s representative to the United Nations Conference on the Human Environment in 1971 and 1972.  Then he taught law at Rutgers University from 1972 to 1978 before returning to UGA as a law professor.  He retired in 2006.

A prolific scholar, Ball wrote many law review articles and four books:  The Promise of American Law:  A Theological, Humanistic View of Legal Process (1981), Lying Down Together:  Law, Metaphor, and Theology (1985), The Word and the Law (1993), and Called by Stories:  Biblical Sagas and Their Challenge for Law (2000).  A specialist in environmental law, tribal law, constitutional law, and the intersection of theology and law, Ball challenged his students and readers to improve the lives of the less fortunate and to work for justice.  Law, he wrote, ought to be a force which transfigures society and builds up human community.

Ball’s work extended far beyond Athens, Georgia.  He taught overseas (in Argentina, France, Belgium, England, and Iceland) over the years and served as a judge on the International People’s Tribunal in Hawaii (1993).  Ball was also a member of the Theological Anthropology Project at the Center of Theological Inquiry at Princeton University.  And his influence continues through the careers of his law students.

Locally in Athens, Ball was instrumental in the Athens Justice Project, which, in the words of its website, “assists low income individuals with pending criminal charges in achieving a fair legal outcome and in becoming productive, law-abiding community members.”  Such work, truly a living memorial to Ball’s commitment to social justice, reflects his active belief in helping the disadvantaged and building up human community.  The Athens Justice Project was just one of Ball’s many community-building activities, with others including a soup kitchen and a homeless shelter.

Ball received many civil rights and public service honors.  It is appropriate then that the Working in the Public Interest (WIPI) Law Conference established the Milner S. Ball Lifetime Achievement Award in 2007.

Our love for our neighbors, Jesus said, must be active.  The obligation to love our neighbors as ourselves requires us to reach out to those who need the assistance we can offer.  Following our Lord in this way will cause us to cross lines some of our neighbors consider improper, for we human beings cling to social injustices which benefit us, if only psychologically.  But crossing these lines is part of God’s mandate upon our lives.  Jesus disregarded such barriers, as the canonical Gospels record.  He was (and is) the Master; a servant is not above his or her master.

Milner Ball followed his master faithfully.  He and I participated in the life of the same parish, crossing paths.  Knowing him, even casually, was a great honor.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

AUGUST 6, 2011 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF THE TRANSFIGURATION

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For More Information:

UGA Law School Tribute Page

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A collect and the readings for a Renewer of Society, according to Evangelical Lutheran Worship (2006), the hymnal and worship book of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America:

Holy and righteous God, you created us in your image.  Grant us grace to contend fearlessly against evil and to make no peace with oppression.  Help us, like your servant Milner Ball, to work for justice among people and nations, to the glory of your name, our Savior and Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.  Amen.

Hosea 2:18-23

Psalm 94:1-15

Romans 12:9-21

Luke 6:20-36