Fellowship of Reconciliation USA
Alice W. Campbell
The Fellowship of Reconciliation USA (FOR-USA) was founded in 1915 by pacifists opposed to U.S. entry into World War I. Open to men, women, and people of all classes and races, its membership would include Jane Addams, Bishop Paul Jones, Grace Hutchins, A. J. Muste, and Bayard Rustin. The organization began within Christian churches, then developed into an interfaith peace and justice alliance. The American Civil Liberties Group (ACLU) grew out FOR’s work on behalf of conscientious objectors and in support of free speech through the National Civil Liberties Bureau.
FOR-USA is the U. S. branch of the International Fellowship of Reconciliation (IFOR). IFOR is a non-governmental organization founded in 1914 whose more than 80 branches share a vision for a world where conflicts are resolved through non-violent means and the rights of conscience are upheld.
In 1957, Alfred Hassler, then FOR’s head of publications, came up with the idea of telling the story of the Montgomery, AL bus boycott and the principles of nonviolent activism through a comic book. He worked with writer and editor Benton Resnik to create the book, which was illustrated by Sy Barry (FOR-USA, Study Guide, 2022). The comic book, Martin Luther King and the Montgomery Story, would inspire civil rights leader and congressman John Lewis, who chonicled his own story in a three-volume graphic novel, March.
Today the Fellowship of Reconciliation carries out a mission of educational outreach and advocacy. FOR-USA provides workshops and consulting for diverse audiences of youths and adults. They work with member groups to advocate and educate for racial justice, LGBTQ rights, Indigenous and Immigrant rights and justice, voting rights, and an end to poverty and inequality. FOR-USA is a partner with the Poor People’s Campaign: A National Call for Moral Revival. The organization’s journal, Fellowship, has been continuously published since 1918.
The Fellowship of Reconciliation: An Introduction. Martin Luther King and the Montgomery Story Curriculum and Study Guide (2022). FOR-USA.
Martin Luther King and the Montgomery Story: How a Comic Book Taught Lessons of the Civil Rights Movement. Martin Luther King and the Montgomery Story Curriculum and Study Guide. (2022). FOR-USA.
FOR History. Timeline. Fellowship of Reconciliation USA website
“Fellowship of Reconciliation” a Portentous New Movement. Harrisburg Telegraph. Dec. 17, 1915, p. 22. Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers. Library of Congress.
Martin Luther King and the Montgomery Story. Social Welfare History Image Portal.
Peace movement is enlisting churches. Richmond Times-Dispatch. Dec. 12, 1915. p. 5. Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers. Library of Congress.
For further reading:
Fellowship of Reconciliation Records. Swarthmore College Peace Collection.
Publications of the Fellowship of Reconciliation USA. Internet Archive.
Jones. R. M. (1916). A More Excellent Way. New York: Association Press.
Resources related to this topic may be found on the Social Welfare History Image Portal.
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