The Atlantic

Doubting MLK During a Strike in Memphis

A retired Presbyterian pastor looks back on 1968, when he participated in the civil-rights struggle but hadn’t yet embraced the principles of nonviolence.
Source: Mike Segar/ Reuters

Gibson “Nibs” Stroupe is a recently retired pastor who spent decades presiding over the proudly multicultural Oakhurst Presbyterian Church in Decatur, Georgia. He traces his ministry and the ideas that informed it back to 1968, and shared his experiences with me after learning of The Atlantic’s exploration of that year.

He wrote:

I was a senior at what was then Southwestern Presbyterian University, and what is now Rhodes College, during the Memphis garbage-workers strike of 1968. I joined other students who were part of that strike. It was part of an ongoing shift in my consciousness from a white person raised in the segregated South to a white person who gradually began

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