Richmond’s Priests and Prophets: Race, Religion, and Social Change in the Civil Rights Era (audio)

Posted on August 12, 2021 by PLT Staff

Audio of an interview conducted by Josh Heman-Ackah and Rachel Olson with Douglas E. Thompson over Zoom (June 16, 2021). Thompson argues that although most scholars up until the 1990s had been largely dismissive toward the desegregation efforts of white churches, there were white churches and pastors in Richmond who were actively working for school desegregation in response to the 1954 Brown v. Board of Education decision. Thompson explains how the sweepingness and lack of precedence of the Brown decision created the reactionary response of massive resistance in public schools and gave an intellectual creditability to circumventing Brown. By citing figures such as the integrationist white Presbyterian minister John Marion and the segregationist Virginia governor Harry F. Byrd, Thompson shows how white churches, pastors, politicians, and newspaper editors in 1950s and 1960s Richmond were more nuanced than first assumed. Heman-Ackah and Olson were 2021 Undergraduate Summer Research Fellows in Lived Theology.

Excerpt: “The Brown decision actually forces white religious people to have to think about what it meant to desegregate not just the schools but their own institutions, both the local congregations but also their institutional structures.”

  • Audio Information
  • Date Recorded:June 16, 2021
  • Location Recorded:Zoom
  • Speaker: Josh Heman-Ackah, Rachel Olson, Douglas E. Thompson,
  • Audio File:Download File »
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