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Abstract

This essay authored by Matthew Birkhold, titled “A Revolutionary with a Soft Heart,” is a chapter in the anthology Rod Bush: Lessons from a Radical Black Scholar on Liberation, Love, and Justice, edited by Melanie E. L. Bush, and co-edited by Rose M. Brewer, Daniel Douglas, Loretta Chin, and Robert Newby (2019). The chapter explores what Rod Bush’s way of being means for practicing revolutionary leadership. Drawing extensively from the author’s relationship with Rod, it reflects on aspects of Bush’s participation in the Black liberation movement, the movement’s development, and Rod’s reflection on how the movement and organizations he was a part of developed. Building on some of Rod Bush’s reflections on how that movement developed and the way it treated its members and non-workers, Birkhold explores how Bush’s reflections on this movement contributed to his later practice of nurturing, caring for, and practicing love with people. Finally, the author explains how his political practice has benefitted from his relationship with Rod Bush and the lessons Bush learned from the Black liberation movement in the 1970s, namely that when organizers emphasize love more than ideology, they create conditions for not only the political development of people but also their personal transformation.

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