A.J. Muste: Hope Alum and Famous Pacifist

“There is no way to peace – peace is the way”
-A.J. Muste

If you’ve ever ventured to the second floor of the Van Wylen Library, you’ve probably seen the Muste Alcove, a study area complete with chalkboard sculptures. The alcove is named for A.J. Muste, an influential nonviolence activist who was a major influence on people like Martin Luther King, Jr.

Muste is a Hope College alumnus, graduating in 1905. While at Hope, Muste was editor of The Anchor and captained the Flying Dutchmen basketball team.  Later, in 1909, he was ordained as a minister in the Dutch Reformed Church; however, he became uncomfortable with the Reformed Church and went on to pastor a Congregational Church.

Eventually becoming an active pacifist after World War I, Muste found himself involved in labor unions and civil rights. Demonstrating for peace ultimately became his main cause until the sudden end of his life in 1968, just as the US was in the midst of the Vietnam War.

The Joint Archives has a collection that includes some of Muste’s personal books and correspondence, as well as newspaper clippings. A separate collection also includes speeches from the Muste Lecture Series, which began in 1985 and continues every spring at Hope, honoring an alumnus who is often called the “American Gandhi.”

With this year’s Critical Issues Symposium topic of reconciliation, it is fitting to remember Muste’s mission and work to unite and reconcile groups of people. Muste’s work will be explored further in a presentation by Jeff Myers at 2:15pm on Wednesday, September 26 in Fried-Hemenway Auditorium, Martha Miller Center.

For more information about A.J. Muste and his mission, check out the A.J. Muste Memorial Institute.

–Madalyn Muncy, Library Student Blogger

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