Only 13% Black Churches Supported Rev. Martin Luther King during Civil Rights Movement
(Postscript updated January 2016…..for those who may find this fact or number unbelievable I would suggest you contact Dr. Day like I did. Further, I personally spoke to Rev. Wright TWICE about this issue to confirm I was not dreaming! Still I understand some will remain in denial or dismiss Dr. Day’s work and/or otherwise marginalize her scholarship instead of providing documenatation to the contrary)
The 48th Anniversary of the Selma Jubilee concluded last week. For those who are not aware, the anniversary is significant as it marks the day when peaceful protesters were attempting to cross the Edmund Pettus Bridge leaving Selma, AL and heading into highway 80. The scene shocked the nation and has been indicated as one of those seminal historic events as it was one critical event which helped persuade President Johnson to sign the 1965 Voting Rights act.
The event featured many speakers. Among them was the legendary Rev., Dr. Jeremiah Wright. He was part of a panel fielding various questions and one lady was asking about the role of the church. Dr. Wright unabashedly recanted that most would be surprised, “Let me say it this way………Dr. Keri Day of Brite Divinity School in Fort Worth, Texas recently published a book which documents the period Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was planning the “Poor People’s” campaign that ONLY 13% OF BLACK CHURCHES supported him!!!”
Why is that statement shocking????….. it’s the reality of ONLY 13%……. which makes many pause. No doubt in death Dr. King enjoys martydom, but in reality and in particular during his ministry of leading the Civil Rights struggles many churches feared and or otherwise were intimidated from showing support of the movement.
More noteworthy is all the struggles and victories Dr. King led, including the infamous ’65 Selma to Montgomery March, For those who may have forgotten, it was Dr. King’s focus on poverty which led to organizing the Poor People’s campaign in 1968. Unfortunately he was assassinated before the event took place. But, in his place, his loyal assistant, Rev. Ralph Abernathy did his best to fulfill it.
On the other side of the coin; no doubt many churches probably wanted to support “the movement” and could not be as visible as they wished. So, another question is what number of churches offered support but were in the shadows?
While many claim to have participated in the Civil Rights struggle, a good majority simply could not muster up the courage to participate. During the Martin and Coretta breakfast held during Jubilee weekend, even keynote speaker Vice President Joe Biden apologized numerous times of not having the strength to join those during the turbulent ’60’s. Think about it……13%, which translates that 87% of Black Churches did not support Dr. King. As of press time, the full report has been requested from Dr. Day for future publishing, as in the words of Dr. King…….”No lie can live forever.”
Another good thing about the Jubilee is it forces people to analyze and put an accurate perspective of what actually occured during the movement. Finally, the Bloody Sunday event was a pivotal turning point for many to come to accept, american citizens were being brutalized……just for wanting to exercise their right by casting a vote. 48 years later is not that long ago!!! This is why it is ludicrous for the Supreme Court to hear arguments about Section 5 of the 1965 Voting Rights Act.
If you are a Sirius customer you can listen to Joe Madison’s recap of the 2013 Jubilee Crossing by clicking the link. Dr. Wright’s comments are 1hr. 29 minutes into the 4 hour program CLICK HERE
** Dr. Day’s Book, “Unfinished Business: Black Women, the Black Church, and the Struggle to Thrive in America” has been out since September. Those who are students of “the movement” or simply want a better perspective of how Black Churches will find it a must read.