Fierce Urgency of Now

We are confronted with the fierce urgency of now… We still have a choice today: nonviolent coexistence or violent coannihilation. We must move past indecision to action…. Our only hope today lies in our ability to recapture the revolutionary spirit and go out into a sometimes hostile world declaring eternal hostility to poverty, racism, and militarism. With this powerful commitment we shall boldly challenge the status quo and unjust mores, and thereby speed the day when “every valley shall be exalted, and every mountain and hill shall be made low; the crooked shall be made straight, and the rough places plain.

Martin Luther King, Jr. “Beyond Vietnam: A Time to Break Silence,” Riverside Church, New York, April 4, 1967

Letter to world from Gao, Mali, October 2020

Photo of numerous children from Yanfolila, Mali.

Photo: Guaka, 2006.

Note from Jonathan D. Greenberg:  This letter is written by a Malian democracy and human rights advocate who is well known to us as a close friend of the USF Institute for Nonviolence and Social Justice. Because this letter expresses the author’s personal experience and analysis in an extremely dangerous war situation, where civilians speak out at great peril, we are not using the author’s name in order to protect their safety.

Following the military coup of March 2012 and the occupation of the northern regions of Mali by the Tuareg separatist armed groups and jihadists in 2012, the Malian transition authorities sought the French government’s intervention in January 2013 to prevent jihadists from reaching Bamako and to liberate Mali’s northern regions of Gao, Timbuktu, and Kidal. The French military force “Serval” liberated Timbuktu and Gao but offered Kidal as an independent sanctuary to the Tuareg separatists because of the region’s abundant natural resources. (See the article “La France a donné Kidal aux séparatistes Touaregues”, by Nicolas Normand, an ex French Ambassador to Mali according to Radio France Internationale.). In 2013, the French Ambassador to Mali, Christian Rouyer, vehemently opposed the French army’s collaboration with the Tuareg rebels. This costs him his post as an Ambassador. Up to today, the Malian government and its security forces do not control Kidal. Continue Reading

Today is an important day for our nation

Today is an important day for our nation, the 57th anniversary of the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom held on August 28, 1963.

The March on Washington was a dramatic and transformative moment in the history of the Black Freedom Movement and in 20th century American history more broadly. Martin Luther King, Jr. called the March “the greatest demonstration for freedom in the history of our nation.” Continue Reading

Remembering Hiroshima and Nagasaki after 75 years: where do we go from here?


Mushroom cloud from nuclear weapon tests conducted by the United States at Bikini AtollThe struggle against racism and colonialism and the movement to abolish nuclear weapons have always been united.

Many of the leaders of the Black Freedom Movement of the 1950s and 1960s in the United States, including Coretta and Martin King, James Baldwin, Harry Belafonte, Ruby Dee and Ossie Davis, actively participated in the global movement to “Ban the Bomb,” abolish atomic and nuclear weapons, and prohibit all nuclear testing. These leaders for racial justice in the United States joined Erich Fromm, Eleanor Roosevelt, Bertrand Russell, Albert Schweitzer, Paul Tillich, and many other prominent intellectuals and faith leaders to form the Committee for a Sane Nuclear Policy (SANE) as an organizing platform for coordinated nonviolent action to achieve nuclear disarmament. Continue Reading

Historic movements require constructive self-criticism to enhance strategic power

Often in important political and social movements, leaders in the movement find themselves at critical crossroads, facing challenges that require urgent attention. Internal self-criticism can enable the movement to process necessary information, and feedback from key allies, on a real-time basis and enable reformulation of strategy, policy, and communications accordingly. We were confronted by this process over and over again during the Black Freedom Movement of the 1960s, enabling us to achieve more powerful results. Continue Reading

Facing Arson and Intimidation with Love and Solidarity

Pastor Michael McBride (affectionately known by his congregants and the larger community as Pastor Mike) is the spiritual leader of The Way Christian Center in Berkeley, California, an important and inspiring social justice activist in the San Francisco Bay Area and nationally, and a close friend and collaborative partner of the USF Institute for Nonviolence and Social Justice. Yesterday afternoon, Pastor Mike hung a Black Lives Matter banner above the entry to his church; sometime after midnight, an arsonist set fire to a trash bin at the back of the church, charring the building before the fire was discovered and, thankfully, extinguished. Continue Reading

Rev. C.T. Vivian: Memories and Reflections

The Reverend Cordy Tindell “C.T.” Vivian died last night in Atlanta, GA, at the age of 95. I met him between 1962 and 1963, during the years of my work with and on behalf of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. We saw one another on numerous occasions during the past 58 years. Referred to affectionately as “C.T.” by those of us who worked closely with him, he was one the most dedicated and fearless of Dr. King’s “battlefield lieutenant generals” in our successful struggle to transform America to end racial segregation during the 1960s. Continue Reading

John Lewis: Memories and Reflections

My first encounter with John Lewis was the day before the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, and the early morning of the March, August 28th, 1963. Rumor had gotten back to Dr. King and Bayard Rustin, Executive Director of the March, that Patrick O’Boyle, Catholic Archbishop of Washington, D.C., and one of the original conveners of the March, was threatening to pull out of the March because of what he had been told was a section in John Lewis’ proposed speech at the March to which Archbishop O’Boyle objected because he believed that It appeared to invite violence. Continue Reading