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William Barnwell

William Barnwell is an Episcopal clergyman who grew up in Old White Charleston, S.C. At his seminary in the mid-1960s, he realized that he could not go into the ministry until he figured out how to deal with  racial issues. So, in the summer of 1966, Barnwell worked in an African American community center near his home in Charleston. He kept a diary as he became close to black children and adults during the day—and hung out with his white friends and family at night. The diary became Barnwell’s first book, In Richard’s World: The Battle of Charleston, 1966. It was first published by Houghton Mifflin, and in 2013 it was republished by the University of South Carolina Press as part of their “Southern Classics” series.

From that summer of 1966, Barnwell has worked in various ways in various places to help bring the races together. Throughout his ministry, he has written books about these experiences. Angels in the Wilderness: Young and Black in New Orleans and Beyond is his eighth published book; four were produced by Houghton Mifflin. It was his honor to gain the trust of the young people and their mentors who told their stories for this book.

Ten Things I Can’t Do Without

  1. Corinne—I am her husband—who tells me I cannot do without her, and she’s right.
  2. My three adult children and their children and my lovely extended family.
  3. Listening to the stories of the young and old in churches, in prisons, and in various communities.
  4. My ministry in the Louisiana State Penitentiary (Angola), but I guess I have to as I have been banned forever from that prison for publicly speaking out on the cruelty of solitary confinement there.
  5. My faith in all people who express what I call the love of Christ, even though many do not claim a Christian faith or, for that matter, any faith.
  6. Writing. As one of the angels put it, “You gotta write, write, and write some more.”
  7. My books, though I am a painfully slow reader.
  8. My attempts to “build community” among all kinds of people.
  9. Walking in the lovely parks in New Orleans and on the trails in the High Rockies.
  10. The dentures that fill the whole top of my mouth.

William Barnwell's contributions: