William Sloane Coffin

Rev. William Sloane Coffin, center, followed by his sister Mary Lindsey, left, arrives at the Federal Building in Boston in this May 20, 1968 file photo. Coffin and four others including Dr. Benjamin Spock were preparing to go on trial on charges of conspiring to counsel young men to evade the draft.

William Sloane Coffin Jr. (June 1, 1924 – April 12, 2006) was an American Christian clergyman and long-time peace activist. He was ordained in the Presbyterian Church, and later received ministerial standing in the United Church of Christ. In his younger days he was an athlete, a talented pianist, a CIA officer, and later chaplain of Yale University, where the influence of Reinhold Niebuhr‘s social philosophy led him to become a leader in the Civil Rights Movement and peace movements of the 1960s and 1970s. He also was a member of the secret society Skull and Bones. He went on to serve as Senior Minister at the Riverside Church in New York City and President of SANE/Freeze (now Peace Action), the nation’s largest peace and social justice group, and prominently opposed United States military interventions in conflicts, from the Vietnam War to the Iraq War. He was also an ardent supporter of gay rights. … With his CIA background, he was dismayed when he learned in 1964 of the history of French and American involvement in South Vietnam. He felt the United States should have honored the French agreement to hold a national referendum in Vietnam about unification. He was in early opposition to the Vietnam War and became famous for his anti-war activities and his civil rights activism. Along with others, he was a founder in the early 1960s of the Clergy and Laity Concerned About Vietnam, organized to resist President Lyndon Johnson‘s escalation of the war. Coffin had a prominent role in the freedom rides challenging segregation and the oppression of black people. As chaplain at Yale in the early 1960s, Coffin organized busloads of Freedom Riders to challenge segregation laws in the South. Through his efforts, hundreds of students at Yale University and elsewhere were recruited into civil rights and anti-war activity. He was jailed many times, but his first conviction was overturned by the Supreme Court. In 1962, he joined SANE: The Committee for a SANE Nuclear Policy, an organization he would later lead.  Approached by Sargent Shriver in 1961 to run the first training programs for the Peace Corps, Coffin took up the task and took a temporary leave from Yale, working to develop a rigorous training program modeled on Outward Bound and supervising the building of a training camp in Puerto Rico. He used his pulpit as a platform for like-minded crusaders, hosting the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., South African Archbishop Desmond Tutu, and Nelson Mandela, among others. …”
Wikipedia
William Sloane Coffin
NY Times: Rev. William Sloane Coffin Dies at 81; Fought for Civil Rights and Against a War
amazon: The Collected Sermons of William Sloane Coffin – The Riverside Years (Set of vol’s 1 & 2)


Podium, anti-Vietnam war demonstration (Arthur Miller, William Sloane Coffin, William Styron), New Haven, Connecticut, March 1968.

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This entry was posted in Books, CIA, Civil Rights Mov., Freedom Summer, Lyn. Johnson, MLKJr., Nixon, No Nukes, Pacifist, Religion, Vietnam War and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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