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

Charles Marsh, Author Princeton University Press $47.5 (304p) ISBN 978-0-691-02134-8
The summer of 1964 in Mississippi was in many ways the peak of the civil rights movement, culminating in the murder of three civil rights workers. Marsh, who directs the Project on Theology and Community at Loyola College in Baltimore, revisits the summer of '64 by exploring the ways that each of the key players in this racial drama were motivated by their religious claims that God was on their side. Marsh chronicles the stories of Fannie Lou Hamer, the famous black activist who said she ""worked for Jesus"" in the struggle for civil rights; Sam Bowers, the Imperial Wizard of the White Knights of the Ku Klux Klan of Mississippi, who understood that his elimination of blacks was God's calling for him to purge heretics from the Christian ranks; William Douglas Hudgins, a white Southern Baptist minister whose messages to his congregation at the beginning of the civil rights movement, according to Marsh, focused on personal piety and not on social justice; Reverend Edward King, the white chaplain at all-black Tugaloo College in Jackson, Miss., who believed that his religious vision as a Christian demanded that he work for social justice in practical ways like voter registration campaigns; and Cleveland Sellers, an SNCC staff member whose Christian vision of nonviolence was changed by his encounter with the spirituality of black nationalism under Stokely Carmichael. Marsh traces the growth and development of each of these leaders, and he shows the ways in which their religious visions of racial change and racial justice came into often violent conflict in the hot Mississippi summer of '64. Marsh's slice of history is imperative reading for understanding the religious foundations of social movements. (Oct.)
Reviewed on: 09/29/1997
Release date: 10/01/1997
Genre: Nonfiction
Paperback - 288 pages - 978-0-691-02940-5
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