Rethinking Religion and the Civil Rights Movement: A Panel at AHA/ASCH

Today's guest post comes from Joseph Stuart. Joseph Stuart is a PhD student at the University of Utah, whose doctoral work examines the relationship of race and gender in opposition to the Civil Rights Movement. His prior work has examined the role of race in the formation of New Religious Movements in America, specifically Mormonism and the Nation of Islam. You can find him on Twitter @jstuart87.
Joseph Stuart

Many history and religious studies courses throughout the country regularly assign David Chappell’s A Stone of Hope: Prophetic Religion and the Death of Jim Crow to students—and for good reason. It’s an excellent book that addresses both black and white people, takes religious beliefs seriously, and connects theology and religious culture to broader currents of American history. In short, it’s a book that is at home in courses on religion, civil rights, race, or postbellum American history.

While there have been several books published after Chappell’s in 2004, I believe that there are still many aspects of religion and the Civil Rights Movement left to address. New studies like Stephanie Hinnershitz’s marvelous book on Asian American religionists fighting for civil rights on the West Coast and Kerry Pimblott’s excellent work on religious revolutionaries and gender in Chicago are excellent examples of how historians are rethinking the role in the Civil Rights Movement. There are still many more points of analysis that historians can explore in studies of the Movement.

The 2018 meetings of the AHA/ASCH would be an ideal place to present new work on race, religion, gender, sexuality, or intellectual histories of the Civil Rights Movement. I plan to organize a panel on the history of religion, race, and the Civil Rights Movement for the 2018 meeting of the American Historical Association, possibly in conjunction with the American Society of Church History. This panel idea generated from my own work on the histories of race and gender that contributed to religious opposition to the Movement from a variety of groups.

My own paper will address the different ways that African-Americans religious leaders like Martin Luther King, Jr. and Malcolm X defined black masculinity in their fights for civil rights during the 1950s and 1960s. Any paper that broadly addresses race and religion in the Civil Rights Movement would fit very well with such a panel.

If you’re interested in joining the panel, or have thoughts about race, religion, and civil rights, please email me at joseph [dot] stuart [at] utah [dot] edu. I hope to hear from those interested in joining/forming a panel!


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