Howard Thurman Learns Why the Sun Never Sets on the British Empire


“At dinner one night, at a large university center, there was a discussion of colonialism and what it had brought by way of blessings to the country. A very beautiful young Indian woman, an instructor at a nearby college, whispered to me, ‘Dr. Thurman, do you know why the sun never sets on the British Empire?’ 

‘No,’ I replied.

‘I will tell you,’ she said. ‘God cannot trust the Englishman in the dark.’

Source: With Head and Heart: The Autobiography of Howard Thurman Harcourt Brace & Company, 1979 p. 124

The ‘So-What’?! Significance: Aside from the astute observation about conquerors in general, I just liked the humor of the anecdote,  and I’m glad Dr. Thurman used it in his autobiography.

A Moslem Meets a ‘Divided’ Christian Church

During that same summer, I came into the young people’s meeting one Sunday afternoon and saw a tall, striking black man addressing the group. I had never before seen him and wondered who had brought him. He was talking to the young people saying:

“I am from Africa. I am Moslem. I came into your town this morning, and I decided that since this is the Christian Sabbath I would like to attend a church. So I walked down the opposite  end of this street and came to a church with a sign, First Baptist Church. I started in to worship and was told at the entrance, ‘This is not the First Baptist Church you are looking for. You are looking for the First Baptist Church for your people.’ And they directed me here. So I came here and this is what I find. In the Moslem religion, there would be no such distinction made.”

I shall remember as long as I live how he ended his talk to these young people on that Sunday afternoon. “Allah laughs aloud in his Mohammedan heaven when he sees the Christian spectacle: the First Baptist Church White and the First Baptist Church Colored.”

Source: With Head and Heart: The Autobiography of Howard Thurman by Howard Thurman Harcourt Brace & Co., 1979 p. 195

Howard Thurman’s Moment of Direction

“Without knowing when or how, I moved into profound focus; the direction of the future opened wide its doors. My life seemed whole again and the strains of an unknown melody healed my inmost center. It was glorious. When I returned  to London and went on to Paris and Geneva. I was aware that God was not yet done with  me, that I need never fear the darkness, nor delude myself that the contradictions of life are final. I was ready now for my journey.”

Source: With Head and Heart: The Autobiography of Howard Thurman, by Howard Thurman Harcourt Brace & Co., 1979, p. 83

A Floridian’s Memory of Mary McLeod Bethune

Mary McLeod Bethune
Mary McLeod Bethune

“As a boy growing up in Daytona, I was of course familiar with how Mary McLeod Bethune started her school and I knew the mission she felt she was fulfilling. Very often she would come to our church, usually on the fifth Sunday night, and she would talk of her dreams for Negro youth. Often she would sing a solo Always the congregation gave her collection for her work …”  — Howard Thurman


Source: With Head and Heart: The Autobiography of Howard Thurman  Harcourt Brace & Co. 1979 p. 23

Photo Credit: Carl Van Vechten


Howard Thurman’s ‘Drive’ Didn’t Help Him as a Motorist

“I learned to drive an automobile during that first summer, a Hupumobile. After two attempts and two failures, I passed the driver’s exam and secured my license. But, I found it next to impossible to keep my mind on the road when I drove. I would drive all around town in first gear, a trail of exhaust following behind. before long my driving became notorious. No one in his right mind would ride with me. When I took burial ceremonies at the cemetery, cars would line up — all of them full to capacity — while my five passenger car stood empty, save for me, the driver.”

Source: With Head and Heart: The Autobiography of Howard Thurman    Harcourt Brace & Co. 1979 p. 56