Revolution and reconciliation: the Student Interracial Ministry, liberal Protestantism, and the Civil Rights Movement, 1960-1970 Public Deposited

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  • March 22, 2019
  • Cline, David P.
    • Affiliation: College of Arts and Sciences, Department of History
  • The Student Interracial Ministry (SIM) was a seminary-based, nationally influential Protestant civil rights organization based in the Social Gospel and Student Christian Movement traditions. This dissertation uses SIM's history to explore the role of liberal Protestants in the popular revolutions of the 1960s. Entirely student-led and always ecumenical in scope, SIM began in 1960 with the tactic of placing black assistant pastors in white churches and whites in black churches with the goal of achieving racial reconciliation. In its later years, before it disbanded in mid-1968, SIM moved away from church structures, engaging directly in political and economic movements, inner-city ministry and development projects, and college and seminary teaching. In each of these areas, SIM participants attempted to live out German theologian Dietrich Bonhoeffer's exhortation to bring the church into the world. Revolution and Reconciliation demonstrates that the civil rights movement, in both its classic phase from the mid-1950s to the mid-1960s and its longer phase stretching over most of the twentieth century, was imbued with religious faith and its expression. It treats the classic phase of the civil rights movement as one manifestation of a theme of Liberal Protestant interracial reform that runs through the century, illustrating that liberal religious activists of the 1960s drew on a tradition of Protestant interracial reform, building on and sometimes reinventing the work of their progenitors earlier in the century to apply their understanding of the Gospel's imperative to heal the injustices of the modern world. By examining the Student Interracial Ministry's role in the civil rights movement, this dissertation contributes to the scholarship of social justice movements and of American religious activism by showing how progressive Christian young people worked for social change at the community level, and in the process created reform within both the seminary and the institutional church. By demonstrating the centrality of liberal Protestantism as a transformative force in twentieth century America, Revolution and Reconciliation offers a nuanced understanding of the student participants in the civil rights movement and a new perspective to the ongoing debates about the social, cultural, and political roots and legacies of the 1960s.
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  • In Copyright
  • "... in partial fulfillment of the requirements for a degree of doctor of philosophy in the Department of History."
  • Hall, Jacquelyn Dowd
Degree granting institution
  • University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Place of publication
  • Chapel Hill, NC
  • Open access

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