A Clarion of Justice | Sojourners

A Clarion of Justice

1965 was a stirring year for social change. The power of the civil rights movement was at its height, and the hope and threat of social change (depending on where you sat) was riding high. It penetrated unlikely lives — including a retired fundamentalist white missionary couple in the tiny town of Savannah, Ohio. The first issue of Freedom Now, the magazine that would become The Other Side, rolled off a secondhand press in Anne and Fred Alexander’s basement that year.

Three months ago, on the brink of its 40-year anniversary, The Other Side magazine ceased publication. In between those bookends a remarkable legacy was created.

Behind the Alexanders’ homegrown effort was the stalwart belief that if white Christians were told the truth about racism, they would repent and change their ways. Instead, the couple’s work became largely irrelevant to their targeted constituency (fundamentalist white Baptist Christians), but it was embraced by a new generation of radical young evangelicals who learned of the magazine through John, the Alexanders’ son, then at Wheaton College. A few years later, a group of impassioned young seminary students in Chicago would crank out their first issue of the Post-American, a modest publication that would become Sojourners.

What these diverse voices raised, like a clarion call, was the realization that the reign of God broke down divisions. Whether those divisions were racial or economic, national or international, based on gender, or patriarchy, or class, Christians were to understand them and tear them down. The Other Side took its name from the idea that it wanted to share the voices of “the other America” — the America that did not make the glossy magazine pages, the news stories, or the television screen.

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Sojourners Magazine January 2005
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