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The Nerve! Conversations with Movement Elders

May 17, 2023

Reverend John Fife is the co-founder of the Sanctuary Movement which protected Central American refugees from deportation in the 1980’s. He is a founding volunteer with No More Deaths, which provides humanitarian aid to migrants in the Sonoran Desert borderlands. In 1992 Fife was elected Moderator of the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (USA). He lives in Tuscon, Arizona and is a member of the National Council of Elders.

In this episode John Fife talks with Yezmin Villarreal about growing up in southwestern Pennsylvania, moving to Arizona as a young newly ordained minister for an internship on the O'odham Reservation, and falling in love with the border and the rich legacies of organizing and resistance there. John tells Yezmin how learning from African American Churches and Pastors during the Civil Rights Movement fundamentally changed everything he believed about the role and responsibility of the church in movements for social change. And he describes his role in the accidental creation of the Santcuary Movement. John also reminds us that the struggle for liberation is long haul work: "You get a lifetime, but that's never the end of the struggle and you don't change the whole world in five years. You just get a chance and opportunity to do a part of what is a long and endless struggle. And you take each day and year as a gift, and you try to do your best with the time you got."