God's Long Summer: Stories of Faith and Civil Rights

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Princeton University Press, 1999 - History - 276 pages
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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. Charles Marsh takes us back to this place and time, when the lives of activists on all sides of the civil rights issue converged and their images of God clashed. He weaves their voices into a gripping narrative: a Ku Klux Klansman, for example, borrows fiery language from the Bible to link attacks on blacks to his "priestly calling"; a middle-aged woman describes how the Gospel inspired her to rally other African Americans to fight peacefully for their dignity; a SNCC worker tells of harrowing encounters with angry white mobs and his pilgrimage toward a new racial spirituality called Black Power. Through these emotionally charged stories, Marsh invites us to consider the civil rights movement anew, 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.


Marsh focuses on the events and religious convictions that led each person into the political upheaval of 1964. He presents an unforgettable American social landscape, one that is by turns shameful and inspiring. In conclusion, Marsh suggests that it may be possible to sift among these narratives and lay the groundwork for a new thinking about racial reconciliation and the beloved community. He maintains that the person who embraces faith's life-affirming energies will leave behind a most powerful legacy of social activism and compassion.

 

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God's long summer: stories of faith and civil rights

User Review  - Not Available - Book Verdict

Theology professor Marsh (Reclaiming Dietrich Bonhoeffer: The Promise of His Theology, Oxford Univ., 1994) argues that both the 1960s Civil Rights Movement and its Southern adversaries derived their ... Read full review

Review: God's Long Summer: Stories of Faith and Civil Rights

User Review  - Ron Mackey - Goodreads

I learned a lot in from this book and it made me want to read more abou that time period. I wonder how I would've stood had I been an adult then? Read full review

Contents

Im on My Way Praise God Mrs Hamers Fight for Freedom
10
The Beginning of a New Kingdom
24
Questioning America
33
The Welcome Table
44
High Priest of the AntiCivil Rights Movement The Calling of Sam Bowers
49
Patriots for Jesus
56
The Warrior Priest
60
Eliminating the Heretics
64
Burying the Dead
141
The Countercultural Christ
146
Cleveland Sellers and thee River of No Return
152
The Long Hot Summer
161
Beyond the Beloved Community
166
Black Power
172
In the Rapids and Losing Control
179
SNCC the Closed Society
189

Against the World Rulers of This Present Darkness
72
Douglas Hudgins Theologian of the Closed Society
82
An Uncluttered Life
90
Civil Rights Distractions
98
A Piety of the Pure Soul
106
The Interior Battle
112
Inside Agitator Ed Kings Church Visits
116
Inside Agitator
127
The Church Visits
131
Clearburning Fragments of a Reconciling Faith
192
AFTERWORD
195
NOTES
205
ACKNOWLEDGMENTS
255
SELECTED BIBLIOGRAPHY
259
INTERVIEWS
267
INDEX
269
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About the author (1999)

Charles Marsh, Associate Professor of Religious Studies and Director of the Project on Lived Theology at the University of Virginia, was born in Alabama and spent his childhood in Mississippi. He is the author of Reclaiming Dietrich Bonhoeffer: The Promise of His Theology.

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