April 15, 2018

When I first met Fr. Norman Rotert in the early 1970s, he was pastor of an inner-city parish in Kansas City, Missouri, trying to imagine how to stabilize a neighborhood suffering from white flight and blockbusting.

I was a Kansas City Star reporter then, writing about those destructive urban dynamics, and Norm wanted to pick my brain a bit. I was glad, if a little surprised, that he was at least as interested in what was happening outside his church's walls as he was in what was happening inside them.

Out of those and other conversations came Norm's decision to commit to direct action through community organizing. He got personally involved by obtaining his own real estate license. Once...

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