Better Together

When the forces of intolerance rear their ugly heads, the forces of inclusion go into action.

Consider Freedom Summer, the Mississippi Summer Project of 1964, when more than 1,000 out-of-state volunteers -- mostly college students from the North -- spent a summer in Mississippi, the state with the lowest black voter registration, then at less than 7 percent. These volunteers risked their lives to work alongside black residents in an effort to register voters. Tragically, several students were killed during the 10-week initiative, dozens and dozens were beaten, and more than 1,000 volunteers and locals were arrested.

This is just one example of an important American tradition. College students in America have a history of making an impact on critical social issues. Fifty years ago, the forces of intolerance targeted the African-American community. Today, the forces of intolerance direct their venom toward Muslim Americans.

From the controversy around the Islamic center in lower Manhattan ("Park 51") to the proposed Quran burning on 9/11 to random acts of violence, the demons of division have begun to rear their ugly heads with increasing frequency. National religious leaders have been at the forefront of the forces of inclusion, writing and speaking about the rising anti-Muslim bigotry. And once again, college students and recent graduates are eager to be part of the forces of inclusion.

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Sojourners Magazine December 2010
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