1954-1959 -- Sitting and Walking in Faith: The Christian Church as a Locus of Resistance

As the Civil Rights Movement begins to coalesce, pastors and church members begin to bring civil rights to national attention through mass meetings, bus boycotts and non-violent resistance to Jim Crow laws.

  • 1954  Brown vs. Board of Education rules that segregation in public schools violates the fourteenth amendment of the United States Constitution.
  • 1955  In violation of segregation laws, African-American Rosa Parks refuses to give up her seat at the front of a public bus in Montgomery, Alabama, leading to the 1955-1956 Montgomery Bus Boycott led by Martin Luther King, Jr.
  • 1957  “Southern Leadership Conference on Transportation and Nonviolence” is formed at Atlanta’s Ebeneezer Baptist Church and Martin Luther King, Jr. is chosen as the Chairman.

Quotes from interviews associated with this scene are listed below. To see excerpts from interview transcripts, click on the associated Excerpts link below each quote.

"If I was an exceptional human being in Detroit, then I saw no reason why I couldn't be an exceptional human being in Mississippi. In Hattiesburg. " Victoria Gray Adams
"I think what ended up getting our family involved in the civil rights movement was the way we looked at the scripture and the heavy emphasis on God's concern for the poor and on justice. " Spencer Perkins
"I believe God was in Christ, not will be, perhaps, maybe if we're good boys and girls, it's over, it's done, we are one people, race is a violation, nations are a violation…" Will D. Campbell
"...I tried to impress upon young people especially, that it is not by might... [not by] all that you know, but it is... by [the] willingness to listen to your peers and to your elders, and also by the grace of God that we have come a long way." Johnnie Rebecca Daniels Carr
"[Maintain] a calm and loving dignity [and do not] deliberately sit by a white person, unless there is no seat." Glenn Smiley
"[The Mississippi State Sovereignty Commission operated as] something akin to NKVD (the public and secret police in the Soviet Union during the reign of Joseph Stalin) among the cotton patches. " Wilson Minor
"I experienced the presence of the Divine as I had never experienced Him before... Almost at once my fears began to go... My uncertainty disappeared. I was ready to face anything." Martin Luther King
"In 1956, I was talking on the campus of Mississippi State University during a religious emphasis week... I said segregation is incompatible with Christian Gospel." Duncan Gray

Find below primary and secondary resources located in the Project on Lived Theology's Civil Rights Archive associated with this Scene. Click on a title to see the full record.

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1970 John Egerton "John Lewis," from A Mind to Stay Here
1970 John Egerton "Will Campbell," from A Mind to Stay Here
1954 Unknown A Parson's Jackassery
1954 Tom P. Brady A Review of Black Monday
1996 Unknown American Civ. Liber. Union of Miss., Inc. vs. King
1954 O.W. Howard Among Colored Folks
2008 David Tisdale An Interview with Peggy Jean Connor: A Pioneer in Mississippi Civil Rights
Will D. Campbell
Orley B. Caudill
An Oral History With Will D. Campbell
1963 Anne Braden Anne Braden to Joan C. Browning, 3/13/1963
John McEntyre
Will D. Campbell
Book Review: The Glad River
1957 Unknown Boycott Menaces Integrated Farm
1955 Unknown Buses Boycotted Over Race Issue
1956 Unknown Buses Uncaught
1955 R.S. Lyells Business Card, Mrs. R.S. Lyells
1963 Central Jurisdiction Study Committee (Committee of Five) Central Jurisdiction Speaks
1954 Unknown Compromise Seen On State School Program Deadlock
1954 Dotson McGinnis Nelson Conflicting Views on a Vexing Issue
Association of Citizens' Councils
Dotson McGinnis Nelson
Conflicting Views on Segregation: Reprints of a Series of Letters Between Dr. D.M. Nelson, President of Mississippi College Clinton, Miss. and an Unnamed Alumnus
Ed King Curriculum Vitae: Edwin King: Civil Rights Work in 1960s, Summary
1954 Unknown Dr. Dotson McGinnis Nelson: A Biographical Sketch
Unknown Economic and Training Needs Mississippi Delta
1963 Ed King Excerpts from Manuscript on Jackson Movement
1956 Unknown Franklin Hails Church Actions, Methodist Leaders of State Pleased
Charles Marsh
Fred Gray
Fred Gray Interview
1956 Herbert Ravenel Sass From the Congressional Record 1956: Mixed Schools and Mixed Blood
1954 Mrs. William Cottles, Sr. God Versus Segregation
1958 P. E. Russell God's People in Bondage
Ed King
Dorothy Abbott
Growing Up in Mississippi in a Time of Change
1988 Nicolaus Mills Heard and Unheard Speeches: What Really Happened at the March on Washington?
1955 Unknown Holmes Pastor Told to Resign
Charles Marsh
Bob Zellner
Interview with Bob Zellner, 3/29/1995
Charles Marsh
Ed King
Interview with Ed King
1958 Unknown Jackson Bishop Gets New Honor, Named President-Designate Of Worldwide Bishop Council
Paul Gaston Jim Crow's Demise: The UVa Story
Charles Marsh
Johnnie Carr
Johnnie Carr Interview
Ed King
Nina Cunningham
Nelle Coulter
Sue Cater
Marvin Pyron
Marilyn Herring
Jon Belton Walters
Jeannie Wesley
Kansas Kuotes December 1957 Issue
1956 C. Conrad Browne Letter from C. Conrad Browne to Mrs. J.B. Harris (05/28/1956)
1956 C.B. Lawyer Letter from C.B. Lawyer to Ed King (03/05/1965)
1955 C.B. Lawyer Letter from C.B. Lawyer to Ed King (11/07/1955)
1956 C.B. Lawyer Letter from C.B. Lawyer to Friends (04/02/1956)
1956 C.B. Lawyer Letter from C.B. Lawyer to Members (01/04/1956)
1955 Carolyn Allen Letter from Carolyn Allen to Dr. Wilburn (09/28/1955)
1956 Charles Holmes Letter from Charles Holmes to Ed King (03/09/1956)
Claud Nelson
Billie Nelson
Letter from Claud and Billie Nelson to Bruderhof generally (02/08/1956)
1954 Dotson McGinnis Nelson Letter from Dr. D.M. Nelson to Tom, December 13, 1954
1954 Dotson McGinnis Nelson Letter from Dr. D.M. Nelson to Tom, May 28, 1954
1956 Edward Johnson Letter from Edward Johnson to Norman Richard Long (05/29/1956)
1957 Gloria E. Brown Letter from Gloria E. Brown to Ed King (03/06/1957)
1958 J.W. Letter from J.W. to Ed King (02/14/1958)
1958 J.W. Letter from J.W. to Ed King (03/05/1958)
1957 J.W. Letter from J.W. to Ed King (04/02/1957)
1957 J.W. Letter from J.W. to Ed King (10/10/1957)
1957 J.W. Letter from J.W. to Ed King (12/18/1957)
1956 C.B. Lawyer Letter from Neil to Ed King (02/05/1956)
1957 T. Ray Lawrence Letter from T. Ray Lawrence to Ed King (02/05/1957)
1956 T. Ray Lawrence Letter from T. Ray Lawrence to Ed King (10/10/1956)
1956 T. Ray Lawrence Letter from T. Ray Lawrence to Ed King (12/07/1956)
1954 Unknown Letter from Tom to Dr. D.M. Nelson, May 18, 1954
1954 Unknown Letter from Tom to Dr. D.M. Nelson, September 9, 1954
1956 Willa Christianson Letter from Willa Christianson to Clarence Jordan (12/09/1956)
1956 William Johnston Letter from William Johnston to Koinona Farm (12/12/1956)
J.H. O'Dell
Fannie Lou Hamer
Life in Mississippi: An Interview with Fannie Lou Hamer
1954 Unknown Methodist Leaders Fight Integration
1956 George W. Cornell Methodists Agree on Racial Policy
1955 Ed King Minutes from the Intercollegiate Fellowship Meeting, November 1955
1955 Unknown Minutes from the Intercollegiate Fellowship Meetings, December 1955 and January 1956
1996 Unknown Mississippi Bias Panel Spied on 87,000 People, Court Told
1955 Tom Ethridge Mississippi Notebook
1956 Unknown Morrow Critical of Ministers
1956 Unknown Musician Flogged Over Integration
1954 Unknown No Segregation Decision Today
1989 Thomas E. Frank Norman Vincent Peale
1955 Ed King Note from Ed King to C.B. Lawyer
1954 Unknown Resolution on Segregation is Slated at Meet
1956 Unknown Sad Day for Methodism
1956 Herbert Ravenel Sass Section Four: On Defending Racial Differences Until the Whole American People Recognizes the South as the Defender of Something Permanently Important(Untitled Document)
1956 Herbert Ravenel Sass Section One: On the Current Purity of the White Race in the United States (Untitled Document)
1956 Herbert Ravenel Sass Section Three: On the Resulting Lack of Race Preference in Children Who Are Allowed to Attended Integrated Schools and the Negative Consequences of Mixed Mating (Untitled Document)
1956 Herbert Ravenel Sass Section Two: On How the South is Being Maligned Through Misuse of the Words Segregation and Prejudice (Untitled Document)
Leanne Marks She Cared Enough to Go to Jail
1955 Unknown Sworn Written Application for Registration
1955 State of Mississippi Sworn Written Application for Registration
1959 Ralph McGill The Agony of the Southern Minister
1958 W. B. Selah The Climate of Freedom: A Sermon by Dr. W. B. Selah March 23, 1958
1957 Ed King The Importance of Apostolic Succession in the Methodist Church (Untitled Article)
Norman Cousins
Nelle Coulter
The Making of Tomorrow
Ed King The Silent Fifties: McCarthyism and Racism; White Resistance; Black Resistance
1957 Sue Cater There Was Fun Too
1961 Frank Holloway Travel Notes from a Deep South Tourist
1956 Unknown Untitled Newspaper Article - Rabbi Harry Halpern's Support of Integration
Ed King White Church (Part Two); Section III-A, "Ole Miss Riots, 1962"
2000 Jennifer Ford Will Campbell and Christ's Ambassadors: Selections from the Katallagete/James Y. Halloway Collection, Special Collections, University of Mississippi
1989 Unknown Will D. Campbell