Scene from Nashville Civil Rights protests.
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Title:Scene from Nashville Civil Rights protests

Undeniably throughout the Civil Rights movement, those who were arrested and put on trial for their non-violent actions of civil disobedience were operating on a new paradigm. This paradigm was informed by faith in such a way that it continued the steps towards freedom and justice for all. James Lawson states in his SNCC Speech in February of 1960, “the choice of the non-violent method, ‘the sit-in,’ symbolizes both judgment and promise. It is a judgment upon middle class conventional, halfway efforts to deal with radical social evil….But the sit-in is likewise a sign of promise: God’s promise that if radically Christian methods are adopted the rate of change can be vastly increased.”

In the spirit of this new hope and new vision we can reflect on the lectionary text, Isaiah 43:16-21, and the words of non-violent activist Marion Barry. He is a living example of verse 19, when he states: “They tried one person for, I guess, half the day and they finally found him guilty. He said, “I’ll go to jail” which sort of shook up the judge and the city officials. They didn’t expect that. So, one after another, we just started going back to jail.” Barry and the other activists with him who went to jail truly continued, through their faith, to believe in the promise of the Lord--“I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert” -- Isaiah 43:19.

[Note: quotations are from materials in Vanderbilt University Special Collections.]

Building:Jean and Alexander Heard Library
Country:United States

Scripture:Isaiah 43:16-21
Isaiah 42:1-9
Isaiah 1:1, 10-20
Lectionary links:CLent05
General Subject:Civil Rights
Culture: African American
Culture: Black

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Copyright Source:Vanderbilt University Special Collections
Attribution:Scene from Nashville Civil Rights protests, from Art in the Christian Tradition, a project of the Vanderbilt Divinity Library, Nashville, TN. [retrieved July 20, 2024]. Original source: Vanderbilt University Special Collections.
Record Number:54246 Last Updated: 2021-06-11 13:08:48 Record Created: 2009-03-19 13:17:15
Institution:Vanderbilt University Collection: Art in the Christian Tradition