Religion News Service is reporting that a meeting of college students is set for Oct. 8-11 at Atlanta’s Morehouse College to relaunch an effort that helped bring about significant social change long ago. The U.S. Student Christian Movement, that has not be active for more than four decades, played a major role in the civil rights and anti-war efforts of another student generation.

Some students think it’s time for their generation to make a greater impact on society as well. It will be interesting to watch how this effort progresses.

The report drew my attention back to an interview I published in the January 2009 issue of Baptists Today. The Rev. Dr. Albert Paul Brinson was one of the Morehouse students who — along with others attending Atlanta University Center schools — carried out sit-ins to challenge racial discrimination in public places.

Dr. Brinson said the students who initiated the acts of civil disobedience in 1960 were part of a highly-organized effort guided by the late Dr. Benjamin Mays, president of Morehouse. The students spent numerous hours in secret, Dr. Brinson said, learning well-developed strategies and acquiring the emotional stability needed to endure the hateful responses.

They did so for three reasons, he told me:

“All of us — who came along in my period and made the sacrifice — were out there for three reasons. We, first of all, believed we had a mandate from Jesus Christ that we are all God’s children and we should love one another. The second thing was the United States Constitution. It guaranteed that all persons are created equal. The third thing was to dare to believe and to commit ourselves to carrying out those kind of things. It was no biggie! That was just what you lived.”

One can only hope and pray that this current and any future generation of students seeking to bring about needed social change will be willing and able to make such strong commitments to those three principles as well. It is one thing to want to make a difference in the world; it is another to make real personal sacrifices in order to do so.

[Photo by John Pierce: Albert Paul Brinson at his home in College Park, Ga.]

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