October 5, 2003: Headlines: History: African American Studies: Africana: Who Inspired the Creation of the Peace Corps?

Peace Corps Online: Peace Corps News: Peace Corps Library: History of the Peace Corps: October 5, 2003: Headlines: History: African American Studies: Africana: Who Inspired the Creation of the Peace Corps?

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Who Inspired the Creation of the Peace Corps?

Who Inspired the Creation of the Peace Corps?

Who Inspired the Creation of the Peace Corps?

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The Peace Corps is a civilian American agency overseen by the federal government that sponsors volunteers who work in so-called Third World or underdeveloped counties on educational, public health, agricultural and construction projects.

The Peace Corps was in fact based on a similar organization, Operation Crossroads Africa. Crossroads Africa was founded by an African American minister, the Rev. James H. Robinson, who served as minister of Harlem's Presbyterian Church of the Master.

Born in 1907 in the Knoxville, TN, black ghetto, Robinson made his way to Lincoln University in Pennsylvania and Union Theological Seminary in New York. A life-long social activist, Robinson fought at historically black Lincoln against the existence of the school's all-white faculty.

Ordained to the ministry in the Presbyterian Church, Robinson gathered a large congregation with a strong progressive social agenda at the Church of the Master. There was a community center, Camp Rabbit Hollow, and Sydenham Interracial Hospital. Politically active, Robinson ran on the Liberal Party ticket for the Borough Presidency of Manhattan in 1953, an election won by Hulan Jack, a regular Democrat who became the first person of color to hold the office.

Robinson was a brilliant preacher, though his style was more in the restrained academic Presbyterian tradition than the dramatic preaching of the black church. But his eloquence was unequalled. Robinson would calmly quote a statistic on the number of children across the world born blind each year from an easily preventable eye disease. He would then look directly at his congregation, and quietly say, "This is not a pleasing thing to the God I worship."

One of the reasons Robinson founded Operation Crossroads Africa was the fact that he needed an answer to the question he was frequently asked, particularly by college students who heard him preach: "What can I do?"

In the nearly 50 years since its establishment, Crossroads Africa has sent some 10,000 volunteers to 35 African countries plus Brazil, working on education, public health, community construction and agriculture.

Robinson gave the Beecher Lectures on preaching at Yale, and published his autobiography, Road Without Turning. Robinson ran into difficulties. South Africa refused him a visa. The US government lifted his passport. He resigned as pastor of the Church of the Master. He died in New York on November 7, 1972, at the age of 65.

Operation Crossroads Africa, which inspired the Peace Corps, was part of James Robinson's ministry. And, as one commentator noted, "it was a ministry whose purpose was to set people free."

When this story was posted in October 2004, this was on the front page of PCOL:

Kerry reaches out to Returned Volunteers Kerry reaches out to Returned Volunteers
The Kerry campaign wants the RPCV vote. Read our interview with Dave Magnani, Massachusetts State Senator and Founder of "RPCVs for Kerry," and his answers to our questions about Kerry's plan to triple the size of the Peace Corps, should the next PC Director be an RPCV, and Safety and Security issues. Then read the "RPCVs for Kerry" statement of support and statements by Dr. Robert Pastor, Ambassador Parker Borg, and Paul Oostburg Sanz made at the "RPCVs for Kerry" Press Conference.

RPCV Carl Pope says the key to winning this election is not swaying undecided voters, but persuading those already willing to vote for your candidate to actually go to the polls.

Take our poll and tell us what you are doing to support your candidate.

Finally read our wrap-up of the eight RPCVs in Senate and House races around the country and where the candidates are in their races.

Director Gaddi Vasquez:  The PCOL Interview Director Gaddi Vasquez: The PCOL Interview
PCOL sits down for an extended interview with Peace Corps Director Gaddi Vasquez. Read the entire interview from start to finish and we promise you will learn something about the Peace Corps you didn't know before.

Plus the debate continues over Safety and Security.
Schwarzenegger praises PC at Convention Schwarzenegger praises PC at Convention
Governor Schwarzenegger praised the Peace Corps at the Republican National Convention: "We're the America that sends out Peace Corps volunteers to teach village children." Schwarzenegger has previously acknowledged his debt to his father-in-law, Peace Corps Founding Director Sargent Shriver, for teaching him "the joy of public service" and Arnold is encouraging volunteerism by creating California Service Corps and tapping his wife, Maria Shriver, to lead it. Leave your comments and who can come up with the best Current Events Funny?
 Peace Corps: One of the Best Faces of America Peace Corps: One of the Best Faces of America
Teresa Heinz Kerry celebrates the Peace Corps Volunteer as one of the best faces America has ever projected in a speech to the Democratic Convention. The National Review disagreed and said that Heinz's celebration of the PCV was "truly offensive." What's your opinion and can you come up with a Political Funny?

Read the stories and leave your comments.

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Story Source: Africana

This story has been posted in the following forums: : Headlines; History; African American Studies



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