BU Today

Campus Life

Howard Thurman Center hosts birthday event for late minister

November 18 is the 105th anniversary of the birth of famous BU minister Howard Thurman (1900–1981).

Howard Thurman. BU Photo Services

November 18 is the 105th anniversary of the birth of Baptist minister Howard Thurman (1900–1981), dean of Marsh Chapel from 1953 to 1965 and the first African-American to hold a deanship at a predominantly white university. Considered one of the greatest preachers of the century, Thurman (Hon.’67) is credited with helping to introduce Martin Luther King, Jr. (GRS’55, Hon.’59) to the nonviolent protests of Mohandas Gandhi. In 1935, Thurman traveled to India to meet Gandhi and was inspired by Gandhi’s peaceful resistance to write Jesus and the Disinherited.

King, who was studying for his doctorate at BU when Thurman was dean, would listen regularly to Thurman preach at Marsh Chapel. It has been reported that King often held a copy of Thurman’s book during the 1955–56 Montgomery, Ala., bus boycott.

The Howard Thurman Center, located at the lower level of the GSU, celebrates Thurman’s birthday and his accomplishments today with a Coffee and Conversation with Dean of Students Kenneth Elmore from 2 to 4 p.m.