The Role of the Church in the Civil Rights Movement By Logan McCullen Religious Aspects of the Civil Rights Movement The civil rights movement was designed to give African Americans the freedoms white citizens enjoyed and took for granted, such as eating in certain restaurants, voting and worshipping in the church of their choosing. In pursuing these rights, African Americans suffered great persecution from white citizens. Beatings and arrests were a part of their everyday lives and many African Americans gave their lives to obtain the liberties they, as all citizens of the United States of America, deserved.
Personal use only; commercial use is strictly prohibited. The civil rights revolution in American history was, to a considerable degree, a religious revolution, one whose social and spiritual impact inspired numerous other movements around the world.
The civil rights movement had legislative aims; it was, to that extent, a political movement. But it was also a religious movement, sustained by the religious power unlocked within southern black churches.
The historically racist grounding of whiteness as dominant and blackness as inferior was radically overturned in part through a reimagination of the same Christian thought that was part of creating it in the first place. American civil rights movements drew from, and were in part inspired by, the ideas of Mahatma Gandhi and the Indian independence movement.
American civil rights movements subsequently became a model for any number of freedom movements internationally, notably including the anti-apartheid struggle in South Africa.
There, religious figures such as Desmond Tutu became international symbols. Also, the black American freedom struggle based in the American South moved protestors in places as diverse as Czechoslovakia under Soviet domination and Chinese students staring down tanks in Tiananmen Square in Thus, activists who have mined the connection between religion, civil rights, and social justice will have plenty of work to do in the future.
The struggle continues through such contemporary venues as the blacklivesmatter movement. This article will focus primarily on the relationship of religion and the black American civil rights movement of the midth century.
Some attention will be given as well to the international implications of that movement, namely its roots in the thought of Mahatma Gandhi and the practices of nonviolent civil disobedience in the Indian independence movement and its successor in the anti-apartheid struggle in South Africa in the s.
As well, the article describes the organizing of farmworkers led by Cesar Chavez in the s and s, a movement primarily of a Mexican-American and Filipino-American agricultural proletariat which borrowed from the example of the southern black American freedom struggle.
Finally, while primarily focused on the black American freedom struggle in the American South, the article also addresses the civil rights movements in the North. The southern freedom movement arose from decades of preparation but has a defined historical trajectory in the dramatic events of the s and s.
The civil rights movement sought to achieve specific legal and legislative aims, many of which were achieved with the Civil Rights Act of and the Voting Rights Act of To that degree, it can be seen as a successful movement for political reform of the working of basic institutions of American public life.
But the movement itself could not have been successful without the spiritual empowerment that arose from the culture developed over two centuries of black American Christianity. In other words, religious impulses derived from black religious traditions made the movement move. Empowered by a mystic Catholic vision with its roots in the American Catholic Worker Movement, Cesar Chavez inspired a generation who had been denied almost completely the most basic rights of Americans.
In both cases, religious belief, culture, and practice gave ordinary people ground down by racism and exploitation the spiritual sustenance to stand up and, in some cases, to lay their lives on the line.
The inspiration provided by the back American freedom struggle made it a model for others engaged in protest against oppressive regimes, including the anti-apartheid struggle in South Africa, the uprisings against oppressive regimes in Eastern Europe and in China during the Tiananmen Square protests ofand most recently the renewed civil rights struggles expressed in the blacklivesmatter movement.
At the same time, the limitations of religiously based social movements have to be acknowledged as well.
In particular, both the black American civil rights movement and the anti-apartheid crusade in South Africa helped establish a black middle class.Or click here to register. If you are a K–12 educator or student, registration is free and simple and grants you exclusive access to all of our online content, including primary sources, essays, videos, and more.
Williams explains how the ideology of the black church roused disparate individuals into a community and how the church established a base for many diverse participants in the civil rights movement. He shows how church life and ecumenical education helped to sustain the protest of people with few resources and little permanent power.
Nov 09, · Watch video · Martin Luther King, Jr. was a social activist and Baptist minister who played a key role in the American civil rights movement from . Olivet Baptist Church was an instrumental part of the African American church’s role in the civil rights movement in the early sixties.
The church was located in Chicago, Illinois and was the largest congregation around, with thousands of African American members. On the one hand, thinking of the role of black churches during the Civil War and Reconstruction, during the Progressive Era, or during the civil rights movement suggests that the African American church historically has taken an activist and progressive role in the public realm.
The Civil Rights Movement became hugely successful with the support of black women. With the Civil Rights Act, black women themselves received long-term benefits and rights that they had never dreamed of before.