• Rich Barlow

    Senior Writer

    Photo: Headshot of Rich Barlow, an older white man with dark grey hair and wearing a grey shirt and grey-blue blazer, smiles and poses in front of a dark grey backdrop.

    Rich Barlow is a senior writer at BU Today and Bostonia magazine. Perhaps the only native of Trenton, N.J., who will volunteer his birthplace without police interrogation, he graduated from Dartmouth College, spent 20 years as a small-town newspaper reporter, and is a former Boston Globe religion columnist, book reviewer, and occasional op-ed contributor. Profile

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There are 21 comments on Who Was Howard Thurman?

  1. In reading your article on Howard Thurman, based on his views and teaching about the human spirit and community, I believe he would not agree with the views of Raul Fernandez and the approach to the human community today through divisive terms like equity, diversity and inclusion.

    We should not be defining the community we live in today by focusing on racial or gender divides but by all of us achieving internal spiritual happiness, respecting each other and making that part of our everyday life in the world.

    1. My heart and head align with your words. Thank you, they strengthen my resolve to resist the spirit of 21st Centurty segregation based on “identity”.

  2. I remember Howard Thurman in a Boston University School of Theology class on preaching describing the death of his follow, preparation of the body in their home. To be in Dr. Thurman’s presence that day was one of the most memorable experiences of my three years at BUST.

  3. I recall Dean Thurmond from my years as undergraduate at BU CLA. It was new and exciting to me, a New Englander, to find such a majestic and spiritual presence at the college. Though I cannot express my admiration in monetary fashion, being retired and on low fixed income, I want you to know some graduates still remember him and have always been proud to say so.

  4. I grew up hearing a story from my father, Rev. Dr. Echol L. Nix, Sr. about him driving Dr. Howard Thurman to the airport after Thurman preached a Vesper service at Mississippi Valley State University (MVSU), where my father was an undergraduate student. A scholarship was named after Thurman at MVSU and my father was a recipient. Dad said as Thurman was exiting the car, he thanked him for the scholarship assistance and Thurman replied, “When you are in a position to help others, pass it on.” It was an honor for me to place the ashes of Howard Thurman, handed to me in an urn by Mrs. Sue Bailey Thurman during the dedication of the new Howard Thurman Bell Tower at Morehouse College in May, 1995, as one of the graduation events organized by Dr. Lawrence E. Carter, Sr., a fellow BU alumnus.

  5. Howard Thurman was an incredible influence in my life. My dad, dr sam hedrick, and mom spent an incredible three day weekend at his dunes cabin in Provincetown when I was in junior high school. He was the most gentle, twinkly eyed, bass voiced, and truly interesting man I ever met. There was sincerity in his every syllable and a concern for and interest in others in his every movement. My dad was at Bust at an incredible time, Martin and Corretta King were frequent visitors at our home in newton but to be honest one of the people from that period I remember most and most positively was Howard Thurman.

  6. Howard Thurman is so relevant for today’s racial
    upheavals, in the age of George Floyd, Black Lives
    Matter and white awakening. As a white married
    Lesbian who is 77 yrs old, participating in my Episcopal
    Church’s ten week course on racism, Thurman’s
    profound wisdom, searching questions, deep
    theology knocks me out intellectually and brings
    tears to my eyes from the “ear of my heart”.

    His voice is so needed in our world, especially in
    white Christian Churches, guiding us to the deep
    center of the self, where each of us dwell with God
    In this center all human beings can meet. Getting
    There so that this self makes a difference in its
    encounters with others, takes the wisdom and knowledge of
    love, practiced in commitment over and over again.
    I give God profound gratitude for the life of Howard

  7. I hear Rev Michael Beckwith of Agape speak and quote Dr Thurman so often that it peaked my interest in who is this man. Then I find out he had a connection with OBERLIN Ohio. It is fascinating reading and learning about him. Amazing.

  8. Thank you for this article! I have to write a biographical essay and I think I will describe Howard Thurman because he is an inspiring person and his leading role in social justice movements deserves respect. Moreover, he isn’t such a popular person for writing and I hope my essay will stand out from others.

  9. With great glee of interest and knowledge of Howard Thurman’s writings I sit with him often in thought. A profound thinker, writer, lecturer, a statement of inspiration. Thank you for this profile of his gifts. Much appreciated! :-)

  10. I’m a 70 year old woman from Texas, and I’m sorry to admit I hadn’t heard about Howard Thurman until today. I’m looking forward to reading his books, and sharing his story with others. Thank you for your introduction to this lovely soul.

  11. Thanks Rich! I am the youngest and only girl out of seven biological children, one legally adopted son and one elder foster brother. I am 65 years old. I have been fortunate in knowing of Dr. Thurman all my life. And, I say that because my dad and mom spoke of their journey as was age appropriate constantly. TMI

    Dr. Thurman possessed the courage and tenacity to STAND without the glitz and glamour of the press, public, newspapers, etc. On 4 December 1948, Dr. Thurman set precedent when he officiated the marriage ceremony of my parents making them the first American born (meaning having generational roots in this country–she 11th gen White; he fifth gen “negro” [and not of slave roots]). My dad would attempt to clarify what being an “American” minority meant in the forties when he met my mom. Yes, there were inter-racial couples of different origins, i.e., classified white woman and “negro” men. These marriages were products of those men as soldiers during WWII marrying foreign women of European descent and bringing them to the States. My parents were the first couple in the State to marry once the law was changed (circa 1 Oct 1948). TMI if you can imagine what a journey being the offspring of these two would be like coming up in the late 50s and beyond. Also, given the community of folks at the Church for the Fellowship of All People’s at present and the fact/fate that my mom’s eldest son was one of many “firsts” here in the North Bay, very gay and vocal and same sex married; although he and his partner married in Boston because of the times. I would say, “Howard Thurman was definitely ahead of his time.” Thank God, he chose NOT to be a hero like Ghandi or King. Heroes die. Thanks again Rich! Folks may not know Dr. Thurman well right now, but “keep up the good works!” Soon, folks will pay attention…

  12. […] (which by no means ends) is simply starting!  In that spirit, I give you this poem traced again to Howard Thurman.  Amongst a wide range of interpretations on-line, this is my tackle Thurman’s phrases.  […]

  13. I recently dug out some old photos that I have had laying around and it was there that I say a photo of Dr Thurman at my grandfather’s house in the 50’s. I was reminded that my grandfather, Dr. Leroy Lewis Dunnington, a Methodist minister in Iowa City, was a good friend of Dr. Thurman’s. In fact, Dr. Therman stayed at my grandfather’s house for prolonged visits in the mid 50’s where Dr. Thurman and my grandfather would spend all day Sunday after church chopping up vegetables and talking about churchly matters, spirit, God, humans and justice for hours. Then for dinner Dr. Thurman in his very deep and loud voice would yell out “come and get it, the Gumbo is ready”. His voice boomed through the old house, so I am told in a magnetic way. Just a little story to go with the incredible man. David Dunnington

  14. Much thanks to you for this article! I need to compose a historical free chat blog and I figure I will portray Howard Thurman because he is a motivating individual and his driving job in civil rights developments merits regard. Additionally, he isn’t a particularly well-known individual for composing and I trust my paper will stand apart from others.

  15. Just now finding out about this most interesting man, in a 13 April 2022 posting at https://twitter.com/SecBlinken, in his remarks

    “The U.S. and India have always had much to learn from one another. At @HowardU
    I discussed how Howard Thurman’s pilgrimage to India and interactions with Gandhi influenced a key figure in our nation’s journey: Martin Luther King, Jr. We share a special bond indeed.”

    For an on-line copy of Howard Thurman’s 1949 book titled “Jesus and the Disinherited”, it is available at the following URL


    A most excellent read and so glad I now know of Howard’s life

  16. Great article on returning to our own personal and life missions back to our authenticity when our life has been turned upside down or thwarted by obstacles from others, or the planks in our own eyes which we share with others and need to be understood as necessary life experiences for us all to know and better understand the human condition with.

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