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Church People in the Struggle

Church People in the Struggle

Church People in the Struggle

The National Council of Churches and the Black Freedom Movement, 1950-1970

Oxford University Press, Dec 4, 1997 – 280 pages

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    This comprehensive study represents the first effort by an historian to examine the relationship of the mainstream Protestant churches to the Civil Rights movement of the 1960s. The focus is on the National Council of Churches, the principal ecumenical organization of the national Protestant religious establishment.

    Drawing on hitherto little-used and unknown archival resources and extensive interviews with participants, Findlay reveals the widespread participation of the predominantly white churches in the efforts moving toward Black freedom that continued throughout the ‘60s. He documents the churches’ active involvement in the March on Washington in 1963 and the massive lobbying effort to secure passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, their powerful support of the struggle to end legal segregation in Mississippi, and their efforts to respond to the Black Manifesto and the rise of Black militancy before and during 1969.

    Findlay chronicles initial successes, and then growing frustration as the national liberal coalition, of which the churches were a part, disintegrated as the events of the 1960s unfolded.

    For the first time, his study makes clear the highly significant role played by liberal religious groups in the turbulent, exciting, moving, and historic events of the 1960s.


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