Rev. Michael O Harrington has spent more than four decades as a community organizer, youth advocate, educator, and chaplain/minister in diverse institutions. As founder of two national networks working in youth & young adult networks and interfaith communities, Culture Zone and Occupy Faith, Harrington has developed curricula, service project models, seminars, and summer mission work for students from pre-kindergarten through college. He is a published author, illustrator, and journalist whose work engages the intersections of sociology, comparative world religions, and ethics. Originally from Texas and having spent extensive time in the Deep South and Northeast, Michael is now based in Seattle, Washington.
FOR: What inspired you to become a FOR member?
Michael Harrington: During the Vietnam war draft, on August 5, 1971, when I was just 19, I was awarded a 1-AO full conscientious objector status. The work with the Fellowship of Reconciliation made that possible.
FOR: What is your proudest FOR moment?
MH: In the Fall of 2011, after Occupy Wall Street began, my partner Karen Ledger, FOR staff member Shauen Pearce [program director of FOR’s then-Task Force on Social, Economic, and Racial Justice], and I facilitated a FOR National Youth Summit in Minneapolis, Minnesota.
FOR: When did you find your peace witness most challenged, and how did you respond?
MH: Safety monitoring student demonstrators in Seattle as they marched through the streets to protest the November 24, 2014 grand jury decision in Missouri to not indict a Ferguson police officer for the killing of Michael Brown, Jr. Hundreds of students walked out of Roosevelt High School and rallied at the University of Washington a few blocks away. I was an [angry] body shield against the counter-demonstrators.
FOR: What is the most critical issue we’re facing right now?
MH: The systemwide destruction of life on Earth.
FOR: What song, book, movie etc. is inspiring you and giving you hope in this moment?
MH: The three-volume trilogy of The Dandelion Insurrection by Rivera Sun.