Remembering the Rev. James Reeb, who died fifty years ago today in Selma, Alabama. His march to Selma began long before the day of his death.
At Philadelphia General Hospital, where Rev. James Reeb worked in 1956 as a chaplain, the strict Presbyterian minister suffered a crisis of faith while tending to drug addicts and the city’s poor.
“His theology had told him that if people were suffering, that it was God’s punishment for their sins,” said Rev. Rob Hardies, the pastor at All Souls Church Unitarian in Northwest Washington, D.C. at a special service held in Reeb’s memory earlier this month. “But this judging voice was at war with another voice inside him that told him ‘These are your brothers and sisters.’”
Reeb was an associate minister at the Unitarian Universalist church from 1959 until 1964 before joining a Quaker non-profit in Boston to work on housing issues. He died 50 years ago today, after a vicious beating by white segregationists in Alabama.
In 1965, Reeb answered Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s call for clergy to join civil rights marchers in Selma, Ala.
Posted by Andrew Gerns