…you had people in Mississippi destroying the black church because…[it] became a symbol of resistance…

Charles Marsh: ...I am particularly interested in your observations of the theological sources of white resistance in Mississippi in 64. A lot has been made about economic, social, and historical factors, but as a theologian working in Mississippi in 64, encountering white resistance of all degrees of hostility, and by whites, most of whom confessed in some way to be Christians… How do you make sense of that?

John Lewis: Well I can make sense of it, but I think people use maybe a certain theological view to justify the separation, to justify the barriers that existed between blacks and whites in Mississippi. To me it was always disturbing to see, in the South… In some of these communities and places you have these beautiful, unbelievable church buildings. Nashville, the city of churches, and you go to the smallest town, a rural community in Mississippi or Alabama, and you see these beautiful buildings where people are spending their resources to build there wonderful places and then they have a sign on these buildings saying 'White Only' or as a matter as far as the black churches saying 'Black Only' or 'Colored Only', but you knew, you knew that it was those invisible signs. I've never been able to understand how people go to church every Sunday morning and pray to God and then the next day, maybe that same day, justify segregation and racial discrimination, you had people in Mississippi destroying the black church because that church became a symbol of resistance to segregation and racial discrimination. You had… the bombing of churches and three civil rights workers that were shot, people are killed because they were caught going to investigate a black church that had been burnt out.

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