Race and Religion in the Bayou City: Latino/a, African American, and Anglo Baptists in Houston’s Long Civil Rights Movement
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While studies that examine religion in movements for social justice have increased in recent years, the intersections of race and religion remain understudied. Therefore, this dissertation is a relational and comparative study of Mexican American, African American, and Anglo Baptists in the Houston area as they engaged the struggle for civil rights through religious associations, churches, and leaders. It demonstrates that race and religion in Houston’s long civil rights movements produced changes in two directions: religion influenced Baptists’ involvement with the movements, and the movement itself influenced Baptists’ religious lives. I argue that from the 1910s through the 1970s, religion played a central role in Baptist efforts to both uphold and challenge the color line in Houston. Influential white Baptists attempted to protect white privilege and power by using their influence, religious organizations, and doctrine to enforce and protect the Jim Crow system toward both black and brown communities. At the same time Mexican American and African American Baptist leaders attempted to use the religious resources at their disposal to mitigate the effects of inequality and push back against racism. However, the long civil rights movement opened a space, a window of opportunity, for white, black, and brown Baptists to challenge racism in churches and in their denominations and to find new and creative ways of taking religious identity politics into the surrounding communities. And black and brown Baptists, sometimes with the help of progressive white Baptists, capitalized on the moment to mobilize religion and weaken the power of the color line and racial inequality.
Cameron, David Jeffrey (2017). Race and Religion in the Bayou City: Latino/a, African American, and Anglo Baptists in Houston’s Long Civil Rights Movement. Doctoral dissertation, Texas A & M University. Available electronically from