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Southern White Ministers and the Civil Rights Movement

By Elaine Allen Lechtreck

384 pages (approx.), 6 x 9 inches, 22 b&w illustrations, 1 table

9781496817525 Printed casebinding $90.00S

9781496817532 Paper $30.00S

Printed casebinding, $90.00

Paper, $30.00

A study of white ministers who risked their pulpits and lives to challenge southern society

In 1963, the Sunday after four black girls were killed by a bomb in a Birmingham church, George William Floyd, a Church of Christ minister, preached a sermon based on the Golden Rule. He pronounced that Jesus Christ was asking Christians to view the bombing from the perspective of their black neighbors and asserted, "We don't realize it yet, but because Martin Luther King Jr. is preaching nonviolence, which is Jesus's way, someday Martin Luther King Jr. will be seen as the best friend the white man in the South has ever had." During the sermon, members of the congregation yelled, "You devil, you!" and, immediately, Floyd was dismissed. Although not every antisegregation white minister was as outspoken as Pastor Floyd, many signed petitions, organized interracial groups, or preached gently from a gospel of love and justice. Those who spoke and acted outright on behalf of the civil rights movement were harassed, beaten, and even jailed.

Based on interviews and personal memoirs, Southern White Ministers and the Civil Rights Movement traces the efforts of these clergymen who--deeply moved by the struggle of African Americans--looked for ways to reconcile the history of discrimination and slavery with Christian principles and to help their black neighbors. While many understand the role political leaders on national stages played in challenging the status quo of the South, this book reveals the significant contribution of these ministers in breaking down segregation through preaching a message of love.

Elaine Allen Lechtreck, Stamford, Connecticut, taught history at Lauralton Hall and the University of Montevallo in Alabama.

384 pages (approx.), 6 x 9 inches, 22 b&w illustrations, 1 table