Interviewees

Bethel, Leonard

Description:

Dr. Leonard Bethel is a Professor Emeritus in the Department of Africana Studies at Rutgers. He was born in 1939 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. In the interview, he describes growing up in the predominantly Black neighborhood of West Philadelphia, being involved in the Fellowship House, through which he became exposed to the Civil Rights Movement, and working at La Citadelle Camp, operated by activist and educator Layle Lane. After attending Lincoln University for his undergraduate degree, he earned a Master of Divinity at Johnson C. Smith University, during which time he was active in desegregation efforts in North Carolina. He earned a Master of Arts in Theology at New Brunswick Theological Seminary (NBTS) and received a doctorate at the Rutgers Graduate School of Education. He became an ordained Presbyterian minister in 1964. After coming to Rutgers in 1969, he worked to establish the Department of Africana Studies, chaired the department for fifteen years, and served as a faculty member for forty-two years. Through his ministry, he became involved in the anti-apartheid movement, as well as in community service organizations and initiatives. A long-time resident of Plainfield, he served as the pastor at Bethel Presbyterian Church. He is the author of numerous books and articles including Educating African Leaders: Missionism in America and La Citadelle: Layle Lane and Social Activism in 20th Century America.