Witnessing And Testifying

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After a chapter exploring black women's religious context and presenting early examples of this work by women of the ante-bellum and post-Reconstruction eras, Ross looks at seven civil rights activists who continue this tradition. They are Ella Josephine Baker, Septima Poinsette Clark, Fannie Lou Hamer, Victoria Way DeLee, Clara Muhammad, Diane Nash, and Ruby Doris Smith Robinson.

In a fascinating narrative style that draws on biography, social history, and original archival research, Ross shows how their moral formation and work reflect both womanist consciousness and practices of witness and testimony, both emergent from the black religious context.

Ross' major work is engrossing history and moving ethical challenge. Examining black women's civil rights activism as religiously impelled moral practices brings a new insight to work on the movement and lifts up a paradigm for engagement in the mountainous challenges of contemporary social life.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
While much attention has been paid to the role of religion in the civil rights movement, most of that has been lavished on ordained clergy and prominent male leaders. Rosetta Ross builds a strong case for women's grassroots importance to the movement in Witnessing and Testifying: Black Women, Religion, and Civil Rights. Ross examines six Christian and one Muslim woman activist, exploring how the history of black women's religious experience in America informed their sense of social responsibility. Ross, an associate professor of ethics at United Theological Seminary in Minnesota, adopts a writing style that is most suited for an academic audience, but the subject matter will have broad appeal. Copyright 2003 Cahners Business Information.
Library Journal
Using one Muslim and six Christian women as moral exemplars of faith-based action aimed at advancing the common good, Ross (ethics, United Theological Seminary of the Twin Cities) explores the confluence of religion, civil rights activism, and black women's contributions to the civic and moral life not only of black Americans but of all citizens. She grounds her argument in summary stories of the pragmatism and spirituality of these seven activist women, displaying their different backgrounds, contexts, and practices. Ross also highlights their common struggle for freedom and universal human flourishing, which she identifies as core black religious values. Ross's engaging and provocative discussion further develops the detail and dimension of the Civil Rights Movement and its legacy not only in battling racial oppression but in confronting inequality in its sundry, insidious guises. A nice complement to works on black organizing tradition, such as Charles Payne's I've Got the Light of Freedom, and an interesting contrast to Anthony Pinn's The Black Church in the Post-Civil Rights Era and A. Roy Eckardt's Black-Woman-Jew. Recommended for larger collections in religious or women's studies, civil rights, black, and U.S. history.-Thomas J. Davis, Arizona State Univ., Tempe Copyright 2003 Cahners Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780800636036
  • Publisher: Augsburg Fortress, Publishers
  • Publication date: 1/1/2003
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 320
  • Sales rank: 754,886
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 0.67 (d)

Table of Contents

Photography Credits
1 Religion and Public Life: Early Traditions of Black Religious Women's Activism 1
Working for Survival and Liberation: Racial Uplift and Social Responsibility 2
Womanist Theology and "Keeping on Down the Freedom Road" 5
Witnessing and Testifying 13
Sojourner Truth: A Black Religious Woman's Antebellum Activism 15
Nannie Helen Burroughs: A Turn-of-the-Century Activist 21
2 Continuing the Traditions: Attention to the "Least" in Civil Rights Activism 31
Ella Baker: Passing on Values of Attending to the "Least" 32
Septima Poinsette Clark: Education for Citizenship 51
Empowering Local People as a Moral Value 87
3 Giving the Movement Life: Black Women's Grassroots Activism 89
Fannie Lou Hamer: Realizing Promises of Religious Faith and Hope 90
Victoria Way DeLee: Community Activism as Religious Practice 117
Self-Realization as Moral Practice from a Grassroots Perspective 138
4 Clara Muhammad: Supporting Movement Ideas Outside Its Mainstream 141
Clara Muhammad and the Nation of Islam 141
Religious and Moral Influences in Muhammad's Early Life 142
Muhammad's Role in the Development of the Nation of Islam 146
Muhammad's Religious and Moral Perspectives 158
5 "Fire Shut Up in My Bones": Black Women Students in the Movement 163
Diane Nash: Passionate Agitation for Positive Quality of Life 164
Ruby Doris Smith Robinson: Building Community and Sustaining Community Protest 193
Nash and Robinson: Young Visionary Activists 220
6 Testimony, Witness, and Civic Life: The Meaning of Black Women's Civil Rights Participation 223
Testifying and Witnessing 223
Values and Virtues: Models and Practices in Black Religious Women's Activism 226
Black Religious Women and Public Life 234
Notes 237
Bibliography 273
Index 285
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