Episcopalians and Race

Episcopalians and Race: Civil War to Civil Rights

Gardiner H. Shattuck
Copyright Date: 2000
Edition: 1
Pages: 328
  • Cite this Item
  • Book Info
    Episcopalians and Race
    Book Description:

    Meeting at an African American college in North Carolina in 1959, a group of black and white Episcopalians organized the Episcopal Society for Cultural and Racial Unity and pledged to oppose all distinctions based on race, ethnicity, and social class. They adopted a motto derived from Psalm 133: ""Behold, how good and joyful a thing it is, for brethren to dwell together in unity!"" Though the spiritual intentions of these individuals were positive, the reality of the association between blacks and whites in the church was much more complicated. Episcopalians and Race examines the often ambivalent relationship between black communities and the predominantly white leadership of the Episcopal Church since the Civil War. Paying special attention to the 1950s and 60s, Gardiner Shattuck analyzes the impact of the civil rights movement on church life, especially in southern states. He discusses the Church's lofty goals--exemplified by the Episcopal Society for Cultural and Racial Unity--and ignoble practices and attitudes, such as the failure to recognize the role of black clergy and laity within the denomination. The efforts of mainline Protestant denominations were critically important in the struggle for civil rights, and Episcopalians expended a great deal of time and resources in engaging in the quest for racial equality and strengthening the missionary outreach to African Americans in the South. Shattuck offers an insider's history of Episcopalians' efforts, both successful and unsuccessful, to come to terms with race and racism since the Civil War.

    eISBN: 978-0-8131-4847-2
    Subjects: Religion, Sociology

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-viii)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. ix-x)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. xi-xiv)
  4. Introduction
    (pp. 1-4)

    Ulrich B. Phillips, born in Georgia in 1877, is generally regarded as the preeminent southern historian of his generation. Raised in an environment that revered the values of the slaveholding class, Phillips’s greatest contribution to scholarship was his argument that the plantation system represented the key to understanding the antebellum South. The plantation, he maintained, functioned both as an economic institution and as a means of social control, unifying southern society and fostering an enduring relationship between benevolent white masters and childlike black slaves. Phillips’s quintessential statement on race is found in the essay, “The Central Theme of Southern History”...

  5. Part I: Segregation
    • 1 Racial Paternalism and Christian Mission after the Civil War
      (pp. 7-30)

      As W.E.B. Du Bois observed in his path-breaking history of the Reconstruction era, news of the signing of the Emancipation Proclamation evoked exuberant expressions of religious feeling among African Americans in the South. Beginning on January 1, 1863, Union army camps became both bases of military operations and havens for thousands of jubilant runaways. Du Bois wrote: “To most of the four million black folk emancipated by civil war, God was real. They knew Him. They had met Him personally in many a wild orgy of religious frenzy, or in the black stillness of the night. His plan for them...

    • 2 Negro Work and the Decline of the Jim Crow Church
      (pp. 31-56)

      InThe Negro’s Church(1933), African American scholars Benjamin Mays and Joseph Nicholson collaborated on one of the most influential studies ever published on black religious institutions. The authors, who were ministers in the Northern Baptist and Colored Methodist Episcopal denominations, respectively, spent over a year collecting data on nearly eight hundred urban and rural churches throughout the United States. Despite the importance of the statistical information they gathered, Mays and Nicholson intended their research to fulfill a larger purpose: they wanted it not only to give social scientists an appreciation of religion’s role as a dominant factor in African...

  6. Part II: Integration
    • 3 The Impact of the Brown Decision
      (pp. 59-86)

      Jwaties Waring, a federal district court judge in South Carolina, seemed an unlikely person to become involved in the desegregation of public schools in the South in the 1950s. Raised and educated in Charleston, Waring embodied the aristocratic pretensions and conservative social values of the Carolina lowcountry. The descendent of slaveholders, he had been nursed during childhood by a black woman owned by his grandparents before the Civil War. Both his parents were committed Episcopalians, and he faithfully attended St. Michael’s Church, Charleston, where (as he later said) he learned to appreciate the interrelationship of religion, ethical values, and “respectability.”...

    • 4 Theology, Social Activism, and the Founding of ESCRU
      (pp. 87-108)

      Do white church members in the South owe their primary allegiance to jesus Christ or to jim Crow? This question, posed by Episcopal priest Das Kelley Barnett of Texas, became the focus for discussion at an ecumenical gathering of four hundred clerical and lay leaders in Nashville in April1957-the first major interracial and interdenominational assembly in the South since the release of theBrowndecision. In his address to the Nashville conference, Barnett spoke about the lack of a sound Christian social ethic in southern church circles, where most churchgoers seemed ignorant of the Bible’s teaching on the unity of...

    • Illustrations
      (pp. None)
    • 5 The Church’s Response to the Civil Rights Crisis
      (pp. 109-134)

      In the spring of 1961, James Farmer, the director of the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE), announced that his organization would send an integrated team of “freedom riders” on buses from Washington, D.C., to New Orleans. This action coincided with the seventh anniversary of theBrowndecision and was intended to test the South’s compliance with court-mandated desegregation in interstate transportation terminals. CORE had sponsored a similar action fourteen years before when the Supreme Court banned segregated seating on interstate buses, and its leaders hoped the new effort would again prod the federal government to protect the rights of African...

    • 6 Christian Witness and Racial Integration in the Deep South
      (pp. 135-160)

      At the end of 1961, Martin Luther King and the SCLC leadership took command of a crucial civil rights campaign in Albany, Georgia. Believing that only mass demonstrations and pressure from outside groups would win concessions from the white power structure in that town, King enlisted support from various allies throughout the coun try. John Morris was one of many white clergymen who responded to King’s appeal, and he in turn engaged the ESCRU membership in the Albany protests. After participating in one of those demonstrations in August 1962, Morris happened to sit next to Coretta Scott King on an...

  7. Part III: Fragmentation
    • 7 Black Power and the Urban Crisis in the North
      (pp. 163-186)

      Although the passage of legislation in both 1964 and 1965 had represented a tremendous advance for black people nationwide, most African Americans still had a long way to go before they experienced appreciable change in their day-to-day lives. Despite receiving the guarantee of a few basic political rights, black people did not yet enjoy economic and social equality with whites; better schools, housing, and jobs were also going to be needed, critics pointed out, before the promise of the civil rights movement would be fulfilled. According to Kenneth Clark, power was central to the ongoing “American Dilemma,” for blacks were...

    • Illustrations
      (pp. None)
    • 8 Backlash and the End of the Civil Rights Era
      (pp. 187-214)

      In a speech before the National Catholic Conference for Interracial Justice in August 1969, Lucius Walker, a black minister and the director of the Interreligious Foundation for Community Organization (IFCO), lambasted all major religious bodies in the United States for failing to support the revolution taking place outside the doors of their sanctuaries. Recently, “some churches and synagogues have been in the forefront of the retreat from justice,” he complained, and religious bureaucrats at all levels “have been more responsive to their racist uptight constituencies than to [pleas] for mercy and justice.” Walker’s address reflected the frustrations he felt as...

  8. Epilogue
    (pp. 215-218)

    In November 1990 a slim majority of voters in the state of Arizona defeated a referendum that would have created a holiday honoring Martin Luther King Jr. Although white citizens in Arizona insisted that their vote was not intended as a repudiation of either King or the movement he led, the symbolic rejection of the great civil rights leader was troubling to many Americans. As a result a number of groups stepped forward to condemn the vote; none of those censures was more notable than the announcement by officials of the National Football League that the 1993 Super Bowl, scheduled...

  9. Notes
    (pp. 219-284)
  10. Index
    (pp. 285-298)