Celebrating Civil Rights Activist The Rev. Clark Olsen
This blog post comes from remarks delivered by The Rev. Peter Morales on the eve of the Mass Moral March in Raleigh, NC. Click here to see The Rev. Peter Morales’ full remarks in celebration of The Rev. Clark Olsen.
Today, we reflect on the long history of the struggle for democracy in the south. This issue of voter suppression goes back to the 1960’s. Civil rights were under attack. Racist practices were keeping African Americans from voting. In 1965, Unitarian Universalist ministers James Reeb, Orloff Miller and Clark Olsen answered the call from Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. to come to Selma.
What follows is a story of heartache and tragedy. Many know that as these three ministers walked on the sidewalks of Selma, white supremacists attacked them. The Rev. James Reeb died two days later as a result of his injuries. Orloff and Clark lived, and each one of us here today honors their sacrifice, their struggle, their pain, and their fervent hopes for a future of compassion and equality. Tonight, the Rev. Clark Olsen is with us and I’d like to take this opportunity to recognize his life of service.
Simply put, the Rev. Clark Olsen is an extraordinary man. His career spans the parish, service in our Unitarian Universalist Association and the business world. As the son of a Unitarian minister, he carried on in his father Arthur’s footsteps. Clark was ordained in 1959 and served as minister for over 20 years in three congregations. For two years he led at the national level as vice president of program and planning for the Unitarian Universalist Association. He served on numerous continental UUA committees and on the board of Starr King School for the Ministry, our UU seminary in Berkeley, California. For 28 additional years, Clark served as a consultant and trainer for nonprofit organizations and for Fortune 500 corporations, specializing in strategic planning, organizational culture change, management and supervisor development, and team building. During those 28 years, he continued to serve the denomination in numerous ways. And we are so thankful he did.
Clark, today we honor your many contributions to our faith. Your leadership, your passion and dedication, and especially your courage, are an inspiration to all.
Our Standing on the Side of Love campaign bestows a special award – the Courageous Love Award – to individuals and groups who live our values of peace and justice out loud in the world. The award is for those who demonstrate in extraordinary ways, the conviction that all are born with inherent worth and dignity. This award is for those who take a stand for the oppressed. This award is for you. May we emulate your strength and your heart.
With deepest appreciation,
The Rev. Peter Morales