Chuck Fager

Director, Quaker House,
Since December, 2001.

Biography

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Chuck Fager was born in Kansas in 1942. The oldest of eleven children, he was raised in a Catholic, military family on Air Force bases, principally in California, Puerto Rico and Wyoming. After nearly enrolling in the U.S. Air Force Academy, he attended Colorado State University, where he won medals in Air Force ROTC. He later left the ROTC program, and completed a B.A. in humanities in 1967.

In the fall of 1964 Chuck went south, to Atlanta, Georgia, where he managed to gain a spot on the staff of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, led by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. He worked for SCLC in Selma, Alabama, during and after the historic civil rights campaign there which culminated in the Selma-to-Montgomery March and passage of the Voting Rights Act. During this campaign he was arrested three times, once spending the night in a cell with Dr. King. This campaign is recounted in Chuck's books, Selma 1965: The March That Changed the South, and a memoir Eating Dr. King's Dinner. (Bibliography below)

In the late fall of 1965, Chuck applied for classification as a Conscientious Objector to the draft, as a non-religious pacifist. Given his military background, he was surprised when the request was granted.

About the same time Chuck met some students and staff from Friends World College (FWC), a experimental Quaker college just starting in New York. He was soon hired as a junior faculty member, which took him in early 1966 to Westbury, New York, where the college was then located. It was here that Chuck was initially exposed to Quakerism, and became a "convinced Friend." During his time at FWC, Chuck's first book, White Reflections on Black Power, was published.

Leaving FWC in midsummer, 1967, Chuck lived in New York City for almost a year, then moved to Cambridge, Massachusetts to enroll at Harvard Divinity School (HDS). He attended HDS part-time for almost four years, migrating steadily away from academia toward work in writing and reporting. In 1969 he joined the Friends Meeting at Cambridge. By late 1970, he was writing essentially full-time, principally for what were known then as "alternative" newspapers. He was also active in numerous peaceful antiwar protests, submitting to arrest twice. In these years he published two more books, Uncertain Resurrection: The Poor Peoples Washington Campaign, and Selma 1965: The March That Changed the South.

After seven years in the Cambridge area, Chuck crossed the continent to San Francisco in late 1975. There he continued to write for "alternative papers," and began work on some fictional projects as well. In the fall of 1977, Chuck returned east, to the Washington, D.C. area. There he freelanced until late 1985, except for a period of about two and a half years when he worked as a congressional staffer, primarily for then-Rep. Paul N. "Pete" McCloskey, Jr. of California. During this time he also launched Kimo Press, a small publishing operation, A Friendly Letter, an independent monthly Quaker newsletter, and transferred his membership in Friends to Langley Hill Friends Meeting in McLean, Virginia.

In November, 1985, Chuck "retired" from writing for a living, and joined the U.S. Postal Service. As a postal employee, Chuck worked first as a substitute rural mail carrier, later as a mail handler, and in the early 1990s as an EEO investigator on discrimination cases. At the same time, he continued to be very productive as a writer and author, producing several more books, fiction as well as nonfiction, for both adults and younger readers. He laid down regular publication of A Friendly Letter, in early 1993, after 134 issues. However, in 1998, it was revived for a special investigative report on two multi-million dollar frauds perpetrated on many Quakers. (More on this in the Bibliography below.)

In the summer of 1994, Chuck accepted a position at Pendle Hill, a Quaker center for study and contemplation near Philadelphia. Chuck directed the Pendle Hill Issues Program for three years, overseeing conferences and publications on issues important to Friends. (You can see some examples of this work at: http://www.pendlehill.org and in the Bibliography below.) During this time he also published a book, Without Apology: The Heroes, the Heritage and the Hope of Liberal Quakerism, and was appointed Clerk of the Fellowship of Quakers in the Arts (FQA), an international network.

In late 1997, Chuck left Pendle Hill and headed to Central Pennsylvania, where he continued writing, editing and publishing, and taught several courses at nearby Penn State University. A continuing focus of his study and publications since this time has been the history and evolution of liberal Quakerism in America, particularly its theological evolution. In 1999 he established Quaker Theology, a semi-annual journal which is available both in print and online. Chuck edits the journal with Friend Ann K. Riggs.

In 1998, he and FQA created the Lemonade Art Gallery at the Friends General Conference annual Gathering. Chuck served as Curator of the Lemonade Gallery, now a part of the Gathering program, through 2002. During this period he was also Clerk of the Planning Committee for the 2001 Quaker Peace Roundtable, hosted by State College (PA) Friends Meeting. He also served on the working group that planned the 2003 North American Quaker Peace Conference at Guilford College.

Following the onset of the terror war of September 2001, Chuck, like many others, reassessed his situation in light of the Quaker Peace Testimony. To aid his own and others' reflection on this turn of events, he established the Quaker Peace Web Page  and later published an essay, A Quaker Declaration of War. At the beginning of 2002, he moved to Fayetteville, North Carolina, to become director of Quaker House, which has been a front-line Friends peace witness project there since 1969.

Chuck has been married and divorced twice. He has four children, three daughters and a son, and a granddaughter. Many of his stories were written for them.  


Bibliography

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