Black History Month

Highlighting the Work and Life of Howard Thurman

Howard Thurman (1899 – 1981) is one of the twentieth century’s greatest preachers, as well as a spiritual writer, philosopher and mystic . He served as a spiritual advisor to Martin Luther King, Jr. and many others. Among his many works is a spiritual book entitled, Meditations of the Heart written in 1953. The book is a beautiful quest into one’s spiritual encounter with the Divine. Below is an excerpt from his book:

Meditations of the Heart – “The Inward Sea”

“There is in every person an inward sea, and in that sea there is an island and on that island there is an altar and standing guard before that altar is the ‘angel with the flaming sward.’ Nothing gets by that angel to be placed upon that altar unless it has the mark of your inner authority. Nothing passes ‘the angel with the flaming sword’ to be placed upon your altar unless it be a part of ‘the fluid area of your consent.’ This is your crucial link with the Eternal.”


An Act of Kindness

Like many human stories, Howard Thurman’s story is one of resiliency, bravery, and hope. It began in Daytona Beach, Florida at the turn of the century on November 18, 1899—Thurman’s birthday. Though his family had little to no means, they loved him dearly, and throughout his life, Thurman (Hon.’67) would often attribute his success to his family’s courage and sacrifice. Young Howard was only fourteen years old when he left the comforts of home in pursuit of knowledge at boarding school (there was no high school for black children in Daytona Beach then). When he arrived at the train station to make his trek north to Jacksonville, he was shocked to learn that while he had enough money for the fare, he needed more to check his trunk. Thurman thought his adventure was doomed to end on that platform until an “anonymous stranger” approached him and asked him why he was crying. This stranger changed the trajectory of Thurman’s life, giving him the funds he needed to get to Jacksonville. Thurman never forgot that act of kindness, and dedicated his autobiography to the man on the platform who “restored his broken dreams.” (From The Howard Thurman Center for Common Ground at Boston College website.)

Other books by Howard Thurmond include: Jesus and the Disinherited (1949), With Head and Heart (1979), Disciplines of the Spirit (1963), The Inward Journey (1961), and The Search for Common Ground.

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