A top lieutenant to Martin Luther King Jr. was sentenced Wednesday in a Virginia court to 15 years in prison for incest for having sex with his teenage daughter.

The Rev. James L. Bevel was a key architect of the 1963 Children’s Crusade in Birmingham, Ala., and other pivotal moments of the civil rights movement. He was convicted after a four-day trial earlier this year in Loudoun County Circuit Court.

Rights leader sentenced to 15 years for incest – Yahoo! News.

I never met Bevel, but I have read about him enough to know that this is a tragedy for all who knew him. Bevel was a gifted prophet who was a major force behind the movement for racial equality. However it often seems that the most gifted are often the most troubled as well, and no one ever could accuse Bevel of walking the straight and narrow road. He was a known womanizer, someone who was accused of taking the command to love our neighbor a bit too literally. I cry knowing that a force for good in the world was also taken over by evil and engaged in inappropriate acts with his own child (he was said to have fathered 16 children). He’s been a troubled man for quite a while, but his leadership was essential to the movement.

O God,
what do we do with the marriage of greatness and weakness,
justice and injustice,
love and selfishness.
Bevel was a man who would die for freedom,
but who was trapped in his own brokenness and humanity.

The wounds are deep, for Bevel and his daughters,
not easily healed, and still bleeding.

Only you have the power to bandage and sooth,
to provide solace in the midst of tragedy,
so as Bevel would have expected,
get to work God, for there is a lot to do here.



One thought on “Bevel

  1. Hard to reconcile calling Bevel a “prophet”, with his evident unwillingness to even accuse himself of this crime. As St. Paul tell us in 2 Tim 3, this man has “the form of Godliness, while denying it’s power”.
    Have nothing to do with him. Given that he went from the Southern Baptist Seminary all the way to Nation of Islam,it appears that his hold on the truth is quite tennuous. Shall we make excuses? Shall we speak of his “gifted yet troubled” personality. Those words could be used to describe all of fallen humanity. Redemption begins with confession, not with lame excuses.

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