Black Churchwomen's Lived Theology and Liberative Social Ethics during the Civil Rights Movement Restricted; Files Only

Mingo, AnneMarie (2013)

Permanent URL: https://etd.library.emory.edu/concern/etds/bk128b09t?locale=en
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Abstract

This dissertation offers a counter to the marginalization of "everyday" Black Churchwomen's contributions to the historical, theological, and ethical underpinnings of the Civil Rights Movement. By interrogating Black women's evolving liberatory oriented virtue ethics of freedom, courage, critical assessment, and imagination, I highlight ways their belief in a God of justice and freedom compelled them to act.

During the Civil Rights Movement, many Black Churchwomen lived out their faith and risked their lives to do the socio-political work they felt they "had to do" as they pursued a cause that was bigger than themselves. Drawing from oral histories that I conducted with over forty civil rights era women at Big Bethel A.M. E. Church and Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta, Georgia, and First A.M.E. Bethel and Abyssinian Baptist Church in Harlem, New York, I retrieve a lived theology and construct a liberative social ethic from the experiences of eight representative women.

This dissertation draws from and contributes to three primary fields of study: American Civil Rights Movement history, liberation theology, and Christian social ethics. To date, limited focus has been given to the role of theology and ethics in the motivations and choices made by Black women during the Movement. The historical legacy of everyday Black Churchwomen's activism becomes a source for a lived theology of justice and freedom and a liberative social ethic of compulsion constructed in the midst of contested spaces. Drawing from concrete experiences, songs, scriptures, and prayers, this lived theology emerges in moments of conflict, bearing witness to God's presence in the midst of the Civil Rights Movement. For the women of this study, their moral formation within segregated communities resulted in a particular liberative social ethic that highlights virtues of freedom faith, courageous resistance, liminal assessment, and theo-moral imagination.

In this dissertation I center Black Churchwomen during the Civil Rights Movement as organic theologians and ethicists whose historic actions continue to provide contemporary guidance. Ultimately I argue that a lived theology of justice and freedom and a liberative social ethic of compulsion provide frameworks for strategic faith-centric organizing in religious-social-political activism today.

Table of Contents

Table of Contents

Introduction.....................................................................................................................................1

Chapter 1: Socio-historical Influences on Black Women's Participation in the Civil Rights Movement.............57

Chapter 2: Retrieving a Lived Theology of Justice and Freedom...............................................................88

Chapter 3: Constructing a Liberative Social Ethic of Compulsion..............................................................133

Chapter 4: Contemporary uses for a Lived Theology of Justice and Freedom and a Liberative Social Ethic.....170

Appendix A: Methodology...................................................................................................................191

Appendix B: Select Transcribed Oral Histories.......................................................................................212

Appendix C: Lyrics for Civil Rights Movement Songs..............................................................................230

Appendix D: Histories of Churches......................................................................................................236

Bibliography....................................................................................................................................244

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