Not many people can say they were invited by Martin Luther King to run a church in Atlanta in the middle of the Civil Rights movement, but tall New Englander Gene Reeves told us about those times and other fascinating aspects of his amazing life at our March meeting.
Gene is well know not our members for his activities as the former head of the International Buddhist Council in Tokyo and his many presentations to us over the years, but we always find him a delight to listen to. He spoke with us of his life as a Unitarian and a Buddhist. A tall white New Englander with a vigorous beard, he told us of the fun of integrating restaurants, filling up the back of buses with whites, complaining to management that the "colored water fountain" did not have colored water, and helping to bring about integration in Atlanta in the space of two years by pressure on businessmen.
He had met King at Boston University where he was studying at the semenary learning how religion was being taught in America, part of his plan to spend a life teaching religion. After Atlanta, he taught at Tufts and then at Wilberforce in Ohio, the first predominantly African-American private university in the nation, and was active in anti-war and other social issues as head of a church in Dayton. Then he lead the Meadville Lombard Seminary while drawing on the rich religious library and resources at the University of Chicago. There he became involved in the International Association of Religious Freedom, which led to him meeting Nikkyo Niwano, co-founder of the Rissho Koseikai, and a lifelong interest in Japan, China and the Lotus Sutra. He has published several books on the Lotus Sutra including a translation.
For those who missed his talk to our little group, you can find videos of his presentations on Youtube, such as at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BY8xaGXPYVo
We very much appreciate his ongoing support of our group.