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Charles Eugene Fager (born 1942), known as Chuck Fager, is an American activist, an author, an editor, a publisher and an outspoken and prominent member of the Religious Society of Friends. He is known for his work in both the 1960s Civil Rights Movement and in the Peace movement. His written works include religious and political essays, humor, adult fiction, and juvenile fiction, and he is best known for Selma 1965: The March That Changed the South, his in-depth history of the 1965 Selma Voting Rights Movement.
In high school, Fager left Catholicism, and for some years regarded himself as an atheist. However, he was interested in religion, and was much influenced by the work of C.G. Jung, who took religion seriously, if in an un-orthodox way.
Fager enrolled at Colorado State University in 1960. There he was in the Air Force Reserve Officers' Training Corps at Colorado State University, where he won a medal as the Outstanding Freshman Cadet, and later commanded a prize-winning AFROTC drill team. However, by his senior year his interest in the air force had waned, and he voluntarily left the ROTC. After leaving Colorado in late 1964, he completed a B. A. in Humanities from Colorado State University in 1967.
Fager moved to Atlanta, Georgia in late summer 1964, and soon became active in the Civil Rights movement. In December 1964 he joined the staff of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC), first in Atlanta and then in Selma, Alabama. He was part of the 1965 voting rights campaign there organized and directed by James Bevel. During that time Fager was arrested three times and spent one night in a jail cell with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
Fager left Selma in early 1966. He had obtained status as a conscientious objector to the military draft, and was required to perform two years of alternative service. This service was performed first at Friends World Institute later Friends World College based in Long Island, New York, and then completed at the New York City Department of Social Services (the Welfare Department).
In 1968, he signed the “Writers and Editors War Tax Protest” pledge, vowing to refuse tax payments in protest against the Vietnam War.
Involvement with the Society of Friends
Fager's work at Friends World Institute acquainted him with some Quakers who were involved in it. He worked as a junior instructor at that college in 1966-1967. In 1969 he joined the Friends Meeting at Cambridge, Massachusetts, while he was studying at Harvard Divinity School. Since then he has been a member of various Friends Meetings. He is currently (2010) a member of Baltimore Yearly Meeting.
Publications and Professional Pilgrimage
In high school during the mid-1950s, Fager got in trouble for writing a circulating a clandestine collection of satiric articles poking fun at teachers and school administrators. He has been writing ever since. He began work as a journalist in college, and in 1967, published his first book,White Reflections On Black Power, followed in 1969 by Uncertain Resurrection: The Poor Peoples Washington Campaign. He later resumed reporting in the Boston-Cambridge area while still enrolled at Harvard Divinity School. By late 1970, he was free-lancing full-time.
From Massachusetts Fager moved in 1975 to San Francisco, where he became a full-time freelance feature reporter for the San Francisco Bay Guardian. One subject of his reporting there was former Congressman Paul Pete McCloskey. By 1978, after Fager had moved to the Washington DC area, McCloskey hired him as a staff investigator for the U.S. House Merchant Marine and Fisheries Committee. He stayed in this position until early 1981, when McCloskey ran unsuccessfully for the Senate. Despite his high regard for McCloskey, Fager disliked Capitol Hill as a place to work, and was happy to leave it behind, even for the renewed uncertainties of the freelance writer's path.
In 1985 Fager began work for the US Postal Service, first as a substitute Rural Mail Carrier, and then as a Mailhandler, until mid-1994. The good pay and benefits of the jobs were good for him and his family (four children). During these years of blue collar manual labor, however, Fager continued to be productive as a writer. (He drew on this experience for his second mystery novel, Un-Friendly Persuasion).
In 1979 Fager founded his own Kimo Press, which publishes Quaker literature, most of which was written by Fager himself. Beginning in 1981, He also edited an independent, muckraking and gadfly Quaker newsletter called A Friendly Letter, which continued until early 1993. He founded a journal entitled Quaker Theology in 1999.
After leaving the Postal Service in 1994, Fager was hired to create an Issues Program at Pendle Hill, a Quaker study center in Wallingford, Pennsylvania. From there, in 1997, he moved to Bellefonte, PA, where he returned to freelance writing, and taught courses in Business Writing at Penn State University. After the attacks of September 11, 2001, he agreed to take the position of Director of Quaker House in Fayetteville NC, Quaker House, a job he had initially rejected earlier in the year.
In his writing, Fager has pursued several abiding interests: reporting, especially about current social issues such as the civil rights movement, recent wars, militarism, and torture; religion, with special focus on Quakerism, or the Society of Friends; and stories, particularly for younger readers.
From 1996 to 2002 Fager also held the position of Clerk in the Fellowship of Quakers in the Arts. He also was Clerk for the 2001 Quaker Peace Roundtable. Since early 2005 he has been part of the Quaker Initiative to End Torture (QUIT).
Fager has been married and divorced twice. He has four grown children, and a growing number of grandchildren.
- White Reflections on Black Power, Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1967.
- Uncertain Resurrection: The Poor Peoples Washington Campaign, Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1969.
- Selma 1965: The March That Changed the South, Charles Scribner's Sons, 1974; Beacon Press, 1985; Kimo Press, 2005.
- The Magic Quilts: A Fantasy, Kimo Press, 1981 and 1989.
- A Respondent Spark: the Basics of Bible Study, Kimo Press, 1984 and 1994.
- A Man Who Made a Difference: the Life of David H. Scull, Langley Hill Friends Meeting, 1985.
- Quakers Are Funny, Kimo Press, 1987.
- Editor, Quaker Service at the Crossroads, Kimo Press, 1988.
- Life and Death and Two Chickens: Stories for Children, Stories of Childhood, Kimo Press, 1989.
- Wisdom and Your Spiritual Journey: A Study of Wisdom in the Biblical and Quaker Traditions, Kimo Press, 1990.
- Fire in the Valley, Quaker Ghost Stories, Kimo Press, 1991.
- Murder Among Friends, A Quaker Mystery, Kimo Press, 1993.
- Un-Friendly Persuasion, A Quaker Mystery, Kimo Press, 1995.
- Without Apology: the Heroes, the Heritage and the Hope of Liberal Quakerism, Kimo Press, 1996.
- A Quaker Declaration of War, Kimo Press, 2003.
- The Harlot's Bible: Quaker Essays, Kimo press 2003.
- Shaggy Locks & Birkenstocks: Studies in Liberal Quaker History, Kimo Press, 2003.
- Why God Is Like A Wet Bar of Soap: Quaker Stories, Kimo Press 2004.
- Eating Dr. King's Dinner: A Memoir of the Movement, Kimo Press, 2005.
- Friends and Torture, Friends Journal, September 1, 2007.
- Chuck Fager's Bio at QuakerHouse.org
- Books for Quakers & Younger Readers by Chuck Fager from Kimo Press
- Chuck Fager's Blog
- Free The Captives: Now a memorial to Tom Fox, a Quaker who was taken captive with three other Christian peaceworkers in Iraq in 2005, then was murdered in March 2006.
- Director of Quaker House
- Woolverton, Paul (Sat Oct 20, 2012). "Chuck Fager is turning over leadership of the Quaker House peace advocacy organization". Fayetteville Observer. Retrieved 4 November 2012.
- “Writers and Editors War Tax Protest” January 30, 1968 New York Post