In A Stone of Hope: Prophetic Religion and the Death of Jim Crow, David L. Chappell sheds new light on the components of the civil rights movement, concretely adding prophetic religion to the mix of ingredients of those tumultuous times from 1940s-1960s. Chappell’s thesis states “that faith drove black southern protesters to their extraordinary victories in the mid-1960s, grew out of a realistic understanding of the typically dim prospects for social justice in the world.” The protester’s prophetic content of their speeches, diaries, and other paraphernalia related to the civil rights movement, illuminates this great divide. With an eye for detail, Chappell points to the factors of religion that have been overlooked by other historians as our country ended Jim Crow and segregation.
One of Chappell’s interesting beliefs was that the civil rights movement and the end of Jim Crow and segregation took place at a weak point in white solidarity. He claims that Southern blacks did not have the same number of supporters as segregationists, but “that white racism could not withstand the strength of the cultural resources that some black protesters brought to bear on the struggle.” In short, antiracists and black protesters had a greater understanding of human nature that helps explain their defeat of segregationists.
To acknowledge all of the leading protesters and their theories on racism, liberalism, and the like would take more space than Chappell could probably afford. Instead, he highlights several of the most well-known and “ordinary” leaders of the civil rights movement, and details their theories and philosophies. Of the more interesting to read ab...
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...ch is more difficult to understand.
As compared to W. J. Cash’s book, The Mind of the South, A Stone of Hope picks up Cash’s story long after The Mind of the South was published. Cash lays a foundation of the general racial attitudes of the South before the civil rights movement gained steam. Cash’s generalizations about African-Americans are just as offensive in the twenty-first century as they would have been in the middle of the twentieth when black protesters marched on Birmingham. Cash would have scarcely believed the desegregated America that emerged as a result of the civil rights movement. Chappell clarifies this movement and gives black Americans a legacy to be proud of. He very clearly shows that the protesters of the civil rights movement were not deaf and dumb to their plight. Their hope of equality set them apart from Cash’s typical African-American.
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