The National Council of Churches established the Delta
Ministry in 1964 to further the cause of civil rights in
Mississippi--the southern state with the largest black population
proportionately and with the stiffest level of white resistance. At
its height the Ministry, which was headquartered in Greenville, had
the largest field staff of any civil rights organization in the
South. Active through the mid-1970s, the Ministry outlasted SNCC,
CORE, and the SCLC in Mississippi, helping to fill the vacuums when
these organizations fell apart or refocused their energies.
In this first book-length study of the Delta Ministry, Mark
Newman tells how the organization conducted literacy, citizenship,
and vocational training. He documents the Ministry's role in
fostering the growth of Head Start and community-based health care
and in widening the distribution of free surplus federal food and
Newman discusses, among other Ministry successes, the Delta
Foundation, which created jobs by channeling grant money to small
businesses that could not secure bank loans. At the same time, he
details the Ministry's problems from its chronic underfunding to
its uneasy relationship with the Mississippi NAACP, which pursued
civil rights objectives through less confrontational methods.
Newman examines the Freedomcrafts manufacturing cooperative and
other ministry failures, as well as mixed efforts such as Freedom
City, a collective agricultural and manufacturing community built
by displaced agricultural workers.
Divine Agitators looks at many inadequately studied
events across a time span that extends beyond the widely accepted
end dates of the civil rights movement. It offers new insights, at
the most local levels of the movement, into conflict within and
between civil rights groups, the increasing subtlety of white
resistance, the disengagement of the federal government, and the
rise of Black Power.
Subjects: History, Political Science, Sociology
Table of Contents
You are viewing the table of contents
You do not have access to this
on JSTOR. Try logging in through your institution for access.