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Fri, 05.19.1916

Homer Jack, Minister and Activist born.

Homer Jack

*Homer Jack was born on this date in 1916. He was a white-American Unitarian Universalist clergyman, pacifist, and social activist.

From Rochester, NY., Homer A. Jack was an only child to active socialist parents. His grandparents had immigrated from central and eastern Europe to escape oppression and poverty. Like his parents, young Jack was a thorough nature-worshiper who distrusted organized religion. He met Esther Rhys Williams at Munroe High School in the early 1930s, and the two married in 1939. The marriage would produce two children and divorce in the early 1970s.

In 1940, Jack received a Ph.D. in biology from Cornell University; he decided to enter the Unitarian ministry. In 1944, he graduated from Meadville Theological School in Chicago. While in Chicago, Jack fought racial segregation. From 1942 to 1943, he served as a Unitarian minister in Lawrence, Kansas, where he spoke out against Lawrence's "violently anti-Negro and anti-labor" stance. He was the executive secretary of the Chicago Council Against Racial and Religious Discrimination from 1943 to 1948, and from 1948 to 1959, served as the minister of the Unitarian Church of Evanston, Illinois.

He actively published Rochester's No-War News and the Fellowship of Reconciliation. He helped organize the anti-war 1942 Chicago sit-in and the anti-segregation Journey of Reconciliation.   Jack co-founded and was the associate director of the American Committee on Africa from 1959 to 1960, co-founded and served as executive director of the Congress of Racial Equality (C.O.R.E.) and National Committee for a Sane Nuclear Policy (SANE) from 1960 to 1964, and directed the Social Responsibility Department of the Unitarian Universalist Association in Boston from 1964 to 1970. In that role, Jack convened the "Emergency Conference on Unitarian Universalist Response to the Black Rebellion" to promote Black Empowerment in the UUA.

From 1970 to 1983, he was the secretary general of the World Conference of Religions for Peace in New York. Simultaneously, from 1973 to 1984, Jack chaired the N.G.O. Committee on Disarmament, Peace, and Security at the United Nations Headquarters. In 1984, he was a minister again in Winnetka, Illinois, a position he would hold until 1989. That same year, he was awarded the Niwano Peace Prize. In the late 1980s, Jack retired from official positions and moved to Swarthmore, Pennsylvania, where he authored two books and remained active in various peace and human rights organizations. He was awarded the Jamnalal Bajaj Award in 1992. He also remarried German Quaker Ingebord Belk. He died of cancer in Swarthmore on August 5, 1993. Homer Jack's autobiography was published posthumously in 1996 as Homer's Odyssey: My Quest for Peace and Justice.

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