Black Churches and Their Attitudes to the Social Protest in the Civil Rights Era: Obedience, Civil Disobedience and Black Liberation Theology

Paulina Napierała

The article focuses on the diversity of attitudes that Black churches presented toward the social protest of the civil rights era. Although their activity has been often perceived only through the prism of Martin Luther King’s involvement, in fact they presented many different attitudes to the civil rights campaigns. They were never unanimous about social and political engagement and their to various responses to the Civil Rights Movement were partly connected to theological divisions among them and the diversity of Black Christianity (a topic not well-researched in Poland). For years African American churches served as centers of the Black community and fulfilled many functions of ethnic churches (as well as of other ethnic institutions), but the scope of these functions varied greatly – also during the time of the Civil Rights Movement. Therefore, the main aim of this article is to analyze the whole spectrum of Black churches’ attitudes to the civil rights protests, paying special attention to the approaches and strategies that are generally less known.
* Funding for the research leading to the results of this study was received from the Polish National Science Centre (NCN) on the basis of the Decision No. 2018/02/X/HS5/02381 for MINIATURA 2 project: “Polityczno-społeczna rola Kościołów afroamerykańskich na Południu USA.” I gratefully acknowledge this support.
Słowa kluczowe: the Black Church, African American churches, ethnic churches, Civil Rights Movement, Civil Disobedience, social protests, non-confrontational attitude, Black Liberation Theology

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