Homer A. Jack

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Homer A. Jack (1916-1993)

"As the clouds of war gathered over Europe in 1937, Homer A. Jack, a young Cornell graduate student, found himself teaching at a small college in Athens. He was completing his Ph.D. in biology and visited Europe to finish his thesis on the biological field stations of the world. On a tour of the continent at the end of the following school year, he visited Stalin's Russia, Hitler's Germany, and Mussolini's Italy. In Moscow, the authorities confiscated his camera, in Germany and Austria he witnessed overt anti-Semitism, and in Italy he observed ominous signs of spreading fascism. The lessons he learned about totalitarianism far outweighed the knowledge he acquired of the local flora and fauna...

"In 1942 Homer began attending meetings of the Fellowship of Reconciliation at the University of Chicago whose organizers included George Houser, James Farmer, and Bayard Rustin. Although primarily a pacifist organization, the FOR cell focused on racism in the local community, especially housing discrimination and segregated restaurants and lunch counters. Out of these meetings was born CORE, the Congress on Racial Equality, which introduced Gandhian techniques of nonviolence to the United States. In 1943 Homer helped organize the first civil rights sit- in and participated in the first Freedom Ride in the Border States and South in 1947...

"In 1952 Homer made the first of three trips to Africa, visiting South Africa and tracing the roots of Gandhian nonviolence and meeting African freedom fighters. His subsequent books, The Wit and Wisdom of Gandhi and The Gandhi Reader, helped introduce a generation of Americans to the father of nonviolence, including a young Alabama preacher, Martin Luther King. In then French Equatorial Africa, Homer visited Dr. Albert Schweitzer and was instrumental in helping to convince him to speak out against nuclear testing. Schweitzer's condemnation of atomic and hydrogen testing in his acceptance speech for the Nobel Peace Prize in Oslo electrified the world...

"In 1959 Homer resigned from the Evanston Unitarian Church at the height of his popularity and moved to New York. He served as associate director of the American Committee on Africa for a year with George Houser, his old FOR colleague. But with the escalation of the Cold War, he soon accepted the post as executive director of the National Committee for a Sane Nuclear Policy. With Norman Cousins, Norman Thomas, and other veteran peace leaders, he orchestrated the national campaign against nuclear testing as President Kennedy and Chairman Khrushchev unleashed a new round of atmospheric explosions...

"In 1965 Homer moved to Boston to become director of the Social Responsibility Department of the Unitarian Universalist Association during an era marked by unparalleled interfaith cooperation and internal denominational conflict...

"As the UUA closed ranks, a new conservative administration took power and Homer was fired. Homer returned to the international stage and accepted the position of Secretary-General of the newly founded World Conference on Religion and Peace (WCRP) in New York. In this role, he brought together leaders of the world's faiths to speak out on war and peace and social issues, carrying on the dream of the World Parliament of Religion that met in Chicago in 1893. Once again, Homer found himself working the corridors of the United Nations, where he lobbied delegates on arms control and religious freedom, ghost wrote speeches for Security Council members, and founded the NGO Committee on Disarmament. On one occasion, he found himself in charge of a boatload of Vietnamese refugees who had been rescued by a WCRP-chartered vessel but could not find port. Following his divorce in the early 1970s, Homer married Ingebord Belk, a German Quaker who had worked for Amnesty International and UNICEF." [1]

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References

  1. Homer A. Jack, harvardsquarelibrary, accessed September 1, 2009.