Explorations in Black Leadership

Co-Directed by Phyllis Leffler & Julian Bond

Niebuhr, Reinhold (1892–1971)

Niebuhr was an influential American Protestant theologian and scholar, best known for his “Christian Realism.” He focused on the persistent roots of evil in human life, calling attention to man’s egotism, class interests, and nationalism. He was a radical critic of capitalism, and ran for office several times on a socialist ticket. He spoke out forcefully against the Ku Klux Klan during his years in Detroit. Among his best known works are the two-volume The Nature and Destiny of Man (1943) and The Irony of American History (1952). He served as a pastor of Bethel Evangelical Church in Detroit from 1915 to 1928 and then taught at Union Theological Seminary in New York City from 1928 to 1960, winning the 1964 Presidential Medal of Freedom. His writings influenced Martin Luther King Jr’s posture on nonviolence.