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Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s connection with Harlem was enhanced in Reinhold Niebuhr’s course “Ethical Viewpoints in Modern Literature” and strengthened through reading black literature and listening to recordings of Negro spirituals.

Thus in less than a year Bonhoeffer experienced more of “Negro” culture than most American whites did in a lifetime.  With (fellow student, Albert Frank) Fischer he suffered the indignity of being refused service in a New York restaurant and felt the vicarious pride of visiting Howard University in Washington, D.C.

Traveling by train through the South during the Christmas holidays, he witnessed segregation firsthand.  He judged American apartheid to be a contradiction of the nation’s ideals and commented that “the way the southerners talked about the Negroes is simply repugnant” (Stephen R. Haynes and Lori Brandt Hale, Bonhoeffer for Armchair Theologians, 22).

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