The life and legacy of internationally renowned peace activist and 1905 Hope College graduate the Rev. A.J. Muste will be the focus of a panel discussion at the college on Wednesday, Nov. 1, at 7 p.m. in Winants Auditorium of Graves Hall.
The public is invited. Admission is free.
The event, “Muste in Michigan,” will address Muste’s formative years with and relationship to West Michigan, the Reformed Church in America (RCA) and Hope College, and how they influenced him. The participants will include:
- Dr. John D. Cox, who is an emeritus professor of English and a 1967 Hope graduate, on the reaction of Hope students to his example and legacy in the 1960s;
- Dr. Judy Parr, who is an RCA historian and a 1967 Hope graduate whose publications include the book “Hope Church, Holland, Michigan: The First 150 Years, 1862-2012”;
- Jeffrey Meyers, who is a graduate student at the Lutheran School of Theology and editor of “The Way of Peace: A.J. Muste’s Writings for the Church” (2016), and a 2010 Hope graduate;
- Ethan Cronkite, whose father the late Dr. Donald Cronkite, professor emeritus of biology at Hope, endowed the college’s A.J. Muste Memorial Lecture series in the 1980s and chaired the series’ coordinating committee for more than 20 years. Ethan is a 2000 Hope graduate and currently a host and founder of Craft-A-Way Camp, an annual summer retreat for adults, as well as a public and academic librarian; and
- Dr. David Schock, an award-winning documentary filmmaker and former member of the Hope communication and English faculty who is developing a film on Muste with Dr. Kathleen Verduin, who is a professor of English and chair of the college’s A.J. Muste Memorial Lecture Committee. The evening will conclude with excerpts from the project.
The panel event coincides with the 50th-anniversary year of Muste’s death. Muste died on Feb. 11, 1967, at age 82.
“This is the 50th anniversary of A.J. Muste’s departure from this world, so my colleagues and I are especially eager to promote knowledge of this famous but controversial alumnus across the campus and around the community,” Verduin said. “Muste is a man who was branded a communist and praised as a saint. I think it’s important that we appreciate his complication and know him better.”
Muste was born in the Netherlands in April of 1885 and grew up in Grand Rapids. After graduating from Hope, he earned degrees from both the RCA’s New Brunswick Theological Seminary and the non-denominational Union Theological Seminary.
One of the most well-known and influential peace activists in the United States, he worked for many years as the executive director of the Fellowship for Reconciliation, an interfaith pacifist organization. He spoke out against the nation’s involvement in every war from World War I through the Vietnam War. In his quest for peace he generated controversy for being arrested for participating in protests in the U.S. and meeting with leaders like Ho Chi Minh, yet he also demonstrated in Moscow’s Red Square against nuclear testing.
While a student at Crozer Theological Seminary in 1949, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. attended a lecture by Muste about non-violence. Nearly a decade later, King was the featured speaker during a 1959 War Resisters League dinner held to honor Muste. The two corresponded in the 1950s and 1960s.
In 1985, Hope commemorated the 100th anniversary of Muste’s birth with the first lecture in the series that now bears his name; by committing to name a space in the Van Wylen Library, completed in 1988, in his honor; and through a profile of Muste by Donald Cronkite in the college’s alumni-and-friends publication, “News from Hope College.”
The college’s 2017-18 A.J. Muste Memorial Lecture will be presented on Tuesday, March 6, at 7 p.m. in Winants Auditorium of Graves Hall. Dr. Leilah Danielson, author of the biography “American Gandhi: A.J. Muste and the History of Radicalism in the Twentieth Century” (2014), who is an associate professor of history at Northern Arizona State University, will address “Calvinism, Class and the Making of a Modern Radical: The Life of Hope Alumnus and Revolutionary A.J. Muste.” Earlier this year, the college’s Van Wylen Library also featured an exhibit about Muste.
Graves Hall is located at 263 College Ave., between 10th and 12th streets.