Douglas Hudgins

Rev. Douglas Hudgins

Rev. Douglas Hudgins was born on May 4, 1905, in Estill Springs, Tennessee. A white Southern Baptist preacher, he presided over the congregation of First Baptist Church in Jackson, Mississippi from 1946 until his retirement from the ministry in 1969. 

Charles Marsh argues that Hudgins was the premier theologian of the closed society.  Hudgins articulated in his sermons, Bible studies, and occasional writings and embodied in his church leadership an austere piety which remained impervious to the sufferings of black people, as well as to the repressive tactics of the guardians of orthodoxy, many of whom were lodged in his own congregation.  Hudgins' faith contained elements of traditional Southern Baptist theology, anti-modernist fundamentalism, and republican civil religion, but these were put in the service of his distinctive emphasis on personal and spiritual purity. In Hudgins' view, the important matters of faith were discovered in the interior dimensions of the soul's journey to perfection.  He proclaimed in a televised sermon in the early years of the Civil Rights era, "Now is the time to shift the emphasis from the material to the spiritual". 

In 1964, under the leadership of Jackson civil rights leader, Medgar Evers, and the college chaplain, Reverend Edwin King, the Tougaloo University student group sought permission to worship with the regular members of First Baptist Church, just as they had sought to do in their numerous visits to other white churches in the city.  From Hudgins' perspective, these visits (like the Brown decision) "imposed some difficult problems on the First Baptist Church," but it still remained a political concern and warranted no pastoral consideration.

Hudgins would not meet with Evers or the students, nor would he meet King, whose custom it was to discuss the intent of the visits with the white ministers.  The church visitors posed only a strategic nuisance, and the matter was promptly turned over to the deacons for resolution.

On June 9, 1963, one week after the first confrontation with the students from Tougaloo and two days before the murder of Medgar Evers, the deacons decided to turn the church visitors away with the threat that arrests and jail sentences would result from further attempts to enter the sanctuary. 

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