Radical Hospitality

Hospitality has been a central model for activism in my life. Starting before my children were born, I have been what some people would call an activist—working in political campaigns; organizing alternative schools; training, mobilizing, and reconciling in the black freedom movement, the women's movement, and the peace and justice movement. I've worked with some magnificent people, deeply committed to spiritually engaged, compassionate social change. People like Bob Moses, Anne Braden, Prathia Hall, Gwendolyn Zoharah Simmons, Clarence Jordan, Bernice Johnson Reagon, Marion King, Grace Lee Boggs, Julia Esquivel, Ndugu T'Ofori-Atta, and Staughton and Alice Lynd. I've learned a great deal from these marvelous women and men, and many others like them.

But as I think about my own movement work and its deepest inspirations, I am continually drawn back to the model of my family—especially my mother, Ella Lee ("Mama Freeney"), and great-grandmother, Moriah ("Mama Rye"). Mama Rye, born in Africa, was a slave in Virginia and died in 1930 at the age of 107. Both Mama Freeney and Mama Rye cultivated a profound mystic spirituality and deep hospitality that they passed to their descendants.

In the years when I was growing up, people visited back and forth at each other's homes more regularly than folks do now. Our house was an

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Sojourners Magazine July-August 2003
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