Installed in 2006, the sculpture of Howard Thurman is one of the newest additions to the Cathedral. Thurman(1900-1981) was ordained a Baptist minister in 1925 and, in 1931, became professor of theology and the first dean of Rankin Chapel at Howard University in the District of Columbia. He also served as Director of Religious Life at Morehouse and Spellman Colleges, Atlanta.
He was founder of the Church for the Fellowship of All Peoples in San Francisco, the first interracial interdenominational church in the United States, he was Honorary Canon of the Cathedral of Saint John the Divine, New York City. In 1953, he became the first African American dean of a major university chapel when he accepted the post at Boston University.
Thurman, who died in 1981, is considered the forefather of the civil rights movement. The statue is looking at and leaning toward the congregation as he was known to do. A gifted and dynamic speaker in his time, Thurman was known for using long, contemplative pauses during his sermons.