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God's Long Summer: Stories of Faith and Civil Rights
In the summer of 1964, the turmoil of the civil rights movement reached its peak in Mississippi, with activists across the political spectrum claiming that God was on their side in the struggle over racial justice. This was the summer when violence against blacks increased at an alarming rate, and when the murder of three civil rights workers in...
In the summer of 1964, the turmoil of the civil rights movement reached its peak in Mississippi, with activists across the political spectrum claiming that God was on their side in the struggle over racial justice. This was the summer when violence against blacks increased at an alarming rate, and when the murder of three civil rights workers in Mississippi resulted in national media attention. This book focuses on this place and time and studies how the lives of activists on all sides converged and their images of God clashed. It invites us to reconsider the civil rights movement in terms of religion as a powerful yet protean force driving social action. The book's central figures are Fannie Lou Hamer, who "worked for Jesus" in civil rights activism; Sam Bowers, the Imperial Wizard of the White Knights of the Ku Klux Klan of Mississippi; William Douglas Hudgins, an influential white Baptist pastor and unofficial theologian of the "closed society"; Ed King, a white Methodist minister and Mississippi native who campaigned to integrate Protestant congregations; and Cleveland Sellers, a SNCC staff member turned black militant. The book focuses on the events and religious convictions that led each person into the political upheaval of 1964. It suggests that it may be possible to sift among these people's narratives and lay the groundwork for a different thinking about racial reconciliation and the community. The author maintains that the person who embraces faith's life-affirming energies will leave behind a powerful legacy of social activism and compassion.
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