A wide-ranging assortment of men and women—some Protestant ministers, two Catholic priests, a nun, a lawyer, and others, are featured in the new book Can I Get a Witness? Thirteen Peacemakers, Community Builders, and Agitators for Faith & Justice.
The book offers essays by a host of authors who tell the story of such well-known activists as Cesar Chavez, who fought to unionize farm workers in California, and Yuri Kochiyama, a Japanese American who was imprisoned with other Japanese during World War II and spent her career seeking to reform the criminal justice system.
Included in this compelling book are stories of many who served as the backbone of Christian activism in 20th century America: people such as Jesuit priest Daniel Berrigan and Dorothy Day, founder of the Catholic Worker movement. The subjects of the book illustrate how, motivated by their faith, they faced down the principalities and powers that maintained—and still maintain—a tight grip on the economic life of a nation.
Reading the book, you see how hard and scary this work could be. We read how preacher Howard Kester was dragged out of a union meeting in the Mississippi Delta, where he had gone to support an African American sharecropper, and beaten. Only luck kept him from being lynched.
In a time of ongoing racism, policies to limit immigration into the United States, and increasing economic inequality and environmental degradation, this book reminds us of the ongoing need for people of faith—meaning all of us—to fight to bring God’s justice into the kingdom in which we find ourselves living today. (Wm. B Eerdmans)