Azaransky on Religion and the International Roots of the Civil Rights Movement

By Lael Weinberger


A recent release from Oxford University Press, likely to interest readers of this blog, is This Worldwide Struggle: Religion and the International Roots of the Civil Rights Movement by Sarah Azaransky (Union Theological Seminary). From the Press's description:

This Worldwide Struggle: Religion and the International Roots of the Civil Rights Movement identifies a network of black Christian intellectuals and activists who looked abroad, even in other religious traditions, for ideas and practices that could transform American democracy. From the 1930s to the 1950s, they drew lessons from independence movements around for the world for an American racial justice campaign. Their religious perspectives and methods of moral reasoning developed theological blueprints for the classical phase of the Civil Rights Movement. 

A few blurbs:

"The long civil rights movement has needed an expansive religious history. This is it and so much more. Inventively following this set of Christian thinkers and activists across the globe and toward various religions, Sarah Azaransky has shed new light on the most pivotal innovation of the twentieth-century: genuine democracy. This Worldwide Struggleis not just great history; it's religious, moral, and ethical reflection for all lovers of democracy and justice."--Edward J. Blum, co-author of The Color of Christ: The Son of God and the Saga of Race in America

"Azaransky offers a savvy, cogently written understanding of the internationalism of early twentieth-century black Christian intellectuals and activists. She comprehensively details previously neglected history of African American religious contributions to global moral commitments challenging white supremacy and socioeconomic inequalities. This book is an inspiring primer in deliberately crafted frontiers of justice-oriented black Christianity, so timely for anyone seeking hopeful roadmaps for similar contemporary forms of religious solidarity supporting human dignity across borders."-- Traci C. West, Professor of Christian Ethics and African American Studies, Drew University

"More than any other, this book reveals the many extensive international relationships that African American religious scholars and civil rights activists established between the 1930s and1950s. This much needed book, rich in historical data, will be welcomed by all its readers for its compelling evidence concerning the world-wide significance of the Civil Rights Movement in the United States through its connection with anti-colonial movements in Asia and Africa." -- Peter J. Paris, Elmer G. Homrighausen Professor Christian Social Ethics, Emeritus, Princeton Theological Seminary