Religious Studies | Religion & Civil Rights
R532 | 3800 | Dixie
The religion of Jesus says to the disinherited: "Love Your enemy. Take the initiative in seeking ways by which you can have the
experience of a common sharing of mutual worth and value. It may be hazardous, but you must do it." For the Negro it means he must
see the individual white man in the context of a common humanity. The fact that a particular individual is white, and therefore may
be regarded in some over-all sense as the racial enemy, must be faced; and opportunity must be provided, found, or created for
freeing such an individual from his "white necessity." From this point on, the relationship becomes like any other primary one.
-Howard Thurman, Jesus and the Disinherited
This is (Martin Luther King Jr.'s) contribution....Every time the cattle prod was used, every time the fire hose was used, every
time a black person was beaten, we saw the beastiality to which the white man has degenerated in a racist society. And so we began
to see we had an enemy and to understand his nature.
-Albert B. Cleage, The Black Messiah
When most people think of the Civil Rights Movement, they think of important individuals and events like Dr. Martin Luther King,
Jr., the Montgomery Bus Boycott, and the "I Have a Dream" speech. Beyond the fact that much of the black leadership in the movement
was clergy, few people stop to recognize the significant role religion played in that social drama. In this course, we will explore
the religious dimensions of the Civil Rights Movement from World War II through the rise of Black Power. By examining the
interracial, interdenominational, and interreligious aspects of the movement we shall seek a better understanding of how religious
cultures and creeds reformed the American social landscape. After examining the Civil Rights Movement in its historical context, we
will turn our attention to contemporary American society to see to what extent the movement's goals were achieved, and whether or
not religion's influence on American social movements has endured or outlived its usefulness.