#LoveInAction oral history collection, 2016-2017
The Student Interracial Ministry was founded in 1960 at Union Theological Seminary in New York City. Spurred by the civil rights movement, this student-run group strove to build greater understanding between people of diverse backgrounds by placing students in congregations to worship and live in different communities. The group grew quickly and involved most Christian denominations. Its administration ultimately moved its location from Union Theological Seminary to the National Council of Churches' Commission on Religion and Race, ultimately being absorbed by the NCC Christian Life and Mission between 1968 and 1969. For the 2014-2015 academic year, the Student Senate of Union Theological Seminary adopted the theme #LoveInAction, focusing on the seminary's activist tradition. Elizabeth Call, Public Services Librarian at Union Theological Seminary's Burke Library, coordinated a range of programming inspired by the theme. This included training students to take the interviews that became the #LoveInAction oral history collection. Interviews were taken in conjunction with two events: a reunion of SIM alumni, held in October of 2016, and the conference "Organizing for Racial Justice, 1960s and Today: An Intergenerational Conversation," which was held on May 3, 2017. Two longer interviews were scheduled around the conference. Additionally, inspired by the StoryCorps model, a story booth was set up at the conference. Conference attendees were invited to give short interviews reflecting on their experiences and conference themes. Further Burke Library programming around the #LoveInAction theme included a student-curated exhibits online and in the Burke Library, a "Lunch and Learn" session on SIM, and a book group to read and discuss David P. Cline's "From Reconciliation to Revolution: The Student Interracial Ministry, Liberal Christianity, and the Civil Rights Movement."
Scope and Contents
The interviews of the #LoveInAction oral history collection were taken to document narrators' experiences in the Student Interracial Ministry and SIM's impact on their lives. Interviews were taken around two events. Four narrators were interviewed in conjunction with a SIM reunion: Thomas Boomershine, Margaret (Peggy) Howland, John Schaefer, and Beryl Smith. Two longer interviews were arranged alongside the "Organizing for Racial Justice, 1960s and Today" conference: Charles and Shirley Sherrod and Virginia Wadsley. Three short interviews were taken at a StoryCorps-inspired story booth set up at the conference itself: Janet Hooper, Petra Thombs, and Carol and George Walters.
Copyright by the Trustees of Columbia University in the City of New York, 2016-2017.