I flew to Denver Wednesday thinking that the reason I was coming was to meet with a reading club, speak at Metro College, Denver Eclectics, Mapleton Expeditionary School of the Arts, and the Johnson Lecture Series over the course of four days. And all that is true. I just didn’t know that it wasn’t ALL.
My friend Harold Fields makes sure that whenever I’m in Denver our schedule will be very full. We had a couple of free hours on Wednesday afternoon and that just wouldn’t do. So Harold drove our friend Claudia and me to Iliff School of Theology to witness a “fireside chat” with Dr. Vincent Harding and Dr. John D. Maguire.
What I learned is that what I witnessed was also one of the key reasons I came to Denver. John David Maguire is the President Emeritus at Claremont Graduate University in Southern California near where I grew up in Pomona and where my grandmother lived the last years of her life. Dr. Maguire is a veteran of the civil rights movement. A friend and colleague of Dr. Martin Luther King, they worked closely together from 1951 until King’s death in 1968. At Coretta Scott King’s request John served as the chair of the board of the King Center when it began (1968-69) and remains a life director to this day.
Maguire is on the Steering Committee of The Beloved Communities Initiative. The purpose of the initiative is (from the website) to identify, explore and form a network of communities committed to and practicing the profound pursuit of justice, racial inclusivity, democratic governance, health and wholeness, and social / individual transformation.
This is also the work of the Coming to the Table initiative. I was excited to learn of this work being done in a systematic way in a university setting. A question I ask myself often is how do we train people in how to establish sustainable Beloved Communities in order to address the challenges we continue to face? How do we learn to live together more successfully; to listen to each other, support each other, accept, work, and love together? How do we establish trust (the most difficult challenge of all)? In order to succeed as human communities we must learn how to build a multi-racial, democratic society. To do so we must face, and overcome, racial, cultural, linguistic, social, and other differences. We must each work on our own “stuff” as we learn to work better together. We must each learn to be constructive participants in our various communities.
This is radical stuff. In spite of what some folks may believe–that we’re already there–we have a long way to go in achieving completely inclusive, interrelated, safe spaces in which to work and grow together based on shared power and love.
If you didn’t click on the link above take some time to discover what the Beloved Communities Initiative has found through their work with ten different communities around the United States about what a Beloved Community really is and how one operates successfully. Click here.
Now, what part can you play?