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Items from the Woodstock Library Rare Book Collection

Woodstock Library Rare Book Collection

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Easter Drums

Woodstock Theological Library is not just a repository of rare books and archives but it is also a growing collection of books and journals. It is not just growing but it houses retrospective materials that contain a treasure trove of authors and their writings that outline the intellectual and cultural developments of the recent past.

There is nothing more exciting than to turn the pages of a journal like The Christian Century and encounter articles that are now historic documents. When first issued, however, they may not have caught the attention of the general public, or, perhaps, the readership of the time may not have grasped the import an article would someday come to have.  In the The Christian Century issue of February 6, 1957, an article was published entitled “Nonviolence and Racial Justice,” the author? Martin Luther King, Jr.


Article by Martin Luther King Jr.

Front Page of Christian Century

King ends his article by pointing out that non-violence “is based on the conviction that universe is on the side justice.” Given that the reality King faced (in fact, we still face more than a half century after the civil rights movement), that conviction seems nothing less than an act of impossible faith and hope. In calling for non-violent protest of segregation and racism rampant in the United States at that time, he also gives a brief historic summary of slavery and the subsequent horrors faced by African Americans from that time onward.

But King’s conviction was strong and it sustained him even as he faced the evil and injustice that sought to dehumanize him and African Americans throughout the United States. This was because he believed in the Good News told by Christ, which was a message of liberation and reconciliation between the oppressed and oppressor.  

King draws an analogy between the violent and oppressive circumstances the African Americans endured and the Passion of Christ. King refers to this as “cosmic companionship” and he gave proof of this companionship when he writes: There is something at the very center of our faith which reminds us that Good Friday may reign for a day, but ultimately it must give way to the triumphant beat of the Easter drums.

Post by Amy Phillips, Rare Materials Cataloger for Woodstock Library