Rev. Fred Cappuccino, UU minister and founder of Child Haven International, was featured in the CUC’s “Let’s Talk Racial Justice” racial justice webinar on Tuesday, January 23, 2018.
Rev. Cappuccino shared his unique experiences in Selma, Alabama in 1965. Participants will then discussed current racial justice issues in relation to the events in 1965. If you missed the webinar, look for a recording of it on the website in the coming weeks.
In the meantime, did you know these 5 things about Fred Cappuccino and the incredible work he’s done?
- Fred was originally ordained as a Methodist minister but encountered resistance from his congregation when he and his wife Bonnie decided to adopt a mixed-race orphan from Japan, where Fred had worked in orphanages for three years before his ordination. Church attendance fell off and he was dismissed and sent to a church in a poor Chicago neighbourhood. After a third Methodist appointment, Fred decided to pursue Unitarian ministry and was called to the church in Silver Springs, Maryland.
- In 1965, Fred’s friend and colleague Rev. James Reeb was badly beaten in Selma, Alabama, ultimately dying of his injuries. Fred decided to join hundreds of other clergy who had gone to Selma to advocate for racial justice. A five-day standoff ensued between protesters and police, which ultimately ended when then-President Lyndon B. Johnson announced he would send voting rights legislation to Congress. Fred has recounted his story to many Unitarian congregations under the title “How I saved my sole in Selma” (that’s not a typo).
- When Fred and Bonnie set out to start a family, they decided they would have just two biological children, concerned about world overpopulation, and adopt a few more. All did not go according to plan — between 1954 and 1982, the Cappuccino family expanded to include 21 children, representing 11 different nationalities. Asked about why and how the couple came to adopt so many, Fred has responded that the family didn’t specifically go looking for them, but simply recognized a need going unfulfilled. “When a baby is on your doorstep, you learn to love it as your own,” he says.
- The life-saving help the Cappuccinos have provided to children around the world goes beyond those they’ve adopted. In 1985, they founded Child Haven International, an organization inspired by the philosophy of Mahatma Gandhi that assists women and children in developing countries with food, clothing, shelter, education, healthcare, and emotional and moral support. The organization’s 9 homes in India, Nepal, Bangladesh, and Tibet care for as many as 1300 children and 300 women. Bonnie still travels to the homes, as well as a women’s training centre in India, four times a year, while Fred oversees the Canadian operations.
- The Cappuccinos’ extraordinary efforts haven’t gone unnoticed. Over the years they have earned numerous awards and accolades, including the Order of Canada in 1996 and the UNESCO Honor for Teaching Human Rights in 1989. However, their firstborn son Robin has said the couple’s biggest reward comes from the work itself. “They genuinely love learning about other cultures and feeling of use in a very troubled world,” he says.