The Memphis Kneel-Ins: On the Front Lines of the Struggle to Desegregate the Church

Hardcover | November 15, 2012

byStephen Haynes

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Throughout the South, the Civil Rights Movement inched along over a period of years, making segregated facilities and discriminatory practices the focus of attention and conflict. In The Memphis Kneel-Ins, Stephen Haynes brings to life a dramatic, yet little studied, tactic adopted byprotesters in the struggle. "Kneel-ins" were the tactic of choice for bringing attention to segregationist policies in Southern churches. These protests involved surprise visits to targeted churches, usually during Easter season. Often these visits led to physical standoffs, typically at the entrance of the church. The spectacle of kneeling worshippers barred from entering the church made for a strong image, and invited both local and national media attention. The Memphis kneel-ins of 1964-65 were unique in a number ofrespects, most notably in that the campaign was led by a group of mostly white students from the local Presbyterian college (Southwestern, now Rhodes). While kneel-in campaigns were almost never sustained for more than a week or two at a single church, in Memphis the protests at Second Presbyteriancontinued intermittently for nearly a year. Because the protesting students presented themselves in groups that were "mixed" by race and gender, white church members saw the visitations as a hostile provocation. At first, the clergy held aloof from the controversy, but eventually they were seized by moral compulsion and decided to take astand. Eventually the hardliners resigned to form another church. Haynes draws on a wide range of sources to tell this inspiring story, including extensive interviews with the former activists. This accessibly written work will not only appeal to scholars of religion and history, but will also be ofgreat interest to pastors and church people concerned about racially diverse congregations.

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Throughout the South, the Civil Rights Movement inched along over a period of years, making segregated facilities and discriminatory practices the focus of attention and conflict. In The Memphis Kneel-Ins, Stephen Haynes brings to life a dramatic, yet little studied, tactic adopted byprotesters in the struggle. "Kneel-ins" were the tac...

Stephen Haynes is Professor of Religious Studies at Rhodes College.

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Format:HardcoverDimensions:256 pages, 9.25 × 6.12 × 0.98 inPublished:November 15, 2012Publisher:Oxford University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0195395050

ISBN - 13:9780195395051

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Table of Contents

Part I: Kneel-Ins and Church Desegregation1. Southern Churches and Civil Rights2. The Practice of Church Protest: Decatur, Albany, Birmingham, Jackson, Atlanta, Montgomery3. On Their Knees: An Anatomy of Church Kneel-InsPart II: The Kneel-In Movement in Memphis4. Memphis before King: The Long Fight against Segregation5. The Facade Fractures: A Church, a College, and a Cause6. Black and White Together: Views from the Church Steps7. Locking Arms or Looking Away: Views from the Sanctuary8. The Story Goes National: Views from Afar9. Shame, Defiance, Punishment, and Schism: The 1965 General Assembly and the Birth of Independent Presbyterian ChurchPart III: The Legacy of the ''Second Presbyterian Controversy''10. The Afterlife of Protest: ''Radical'' Students Look Back11. The Children: Remembering Church Trauma12. Confronting the PAst: The Quest for Reconciliation at Second Presbyterian Church13. The Past That Will Not Stay Past: Independent Presbyterian ChurchEpilogue: The Romance of Howard and HortenseIndex