The foremost scholar of African-American Unitarian Universalist history presents this long-awaited analysis of the denomination’s civil rights activism in Selma, Alabama, in 1965. Selma represented a turning point for Unitarian Universalists. In answering Martin Luther King Jr.’s call to action, they shifted from passing earnest resolutions about racial justice to putting their lives on the line for the cause.
Morrison-Reed traces the long history of race relations among the Unitarians and the Universalists leading up to 1965, exploring events and practices of the late nineteenth century and first half of the twentieth century. He reveals the disparity between their espoused values on race and their values in practice. And yet, in 1965 their activism in Selma—involving hundreds of ministers and the violent deaths of Rev. James Reeb and Viola Liuzzo—at last put them in authentic relationship with their proclaimed beliefs.
With rigorous scholarship and unflinching frankness, The Selma Awakening provides a new way of understanding Unitarian Universalist engagement with race and offers an indispensable new resource for anyone interested in UU history.
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