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The Last Segregated Hour: The Memphis Kneel-Ins and the Campaign for Southern Church Desegregation Hardcover – October 25, 2012


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press (October 25, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0195395050
  • ISBN-13: 978-0195395051
  • Product Dimensions: 9.4 x 6.1 x 1.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #856,229 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

"...an excellent book that rescues one of the least reported chapters in Memphis civil rights history."--Memphis Flyer"

"Overall, this is the finest study of the church kneel-ins that I have read, and more generally a signal contribution to civil rights movement historiography."--Religion in American History

...extensive research and a crisp writing style make The Last Segregated Hour an essential read for anyone seeking to understand either the particular racial history of Memphis and SPC or the general impact on American communities....."--Memphis Commercial Appeal

"The Last Segregated Hour: The Memphis Kneel-ins and the Campaign for Southern Church Desegregation, by Stephen R. Haynes, tells an inspiring, lesser-known story of the civil rights era: the 1964-65 campaign by groups of white and black students to challenge segregation in local churches."--Sojourners


"Haynes...conducted extensive research for his book, including interviews with nearly 150 witnesses and participants, and it shows on every page. He should be commended for tracking down these now-elderly sources and recording their stories, which are an essential part of the historical record. Even the book's footnotes are well worth reading, as they are packed with rich background and context."--Catholic San Francisco


"A well-researched analysis of a church desegregation campaign in Memphis... As a thorough examination into local history, this work will nevertheless leave readers questioning its larger significance... Haynes's book provides a fitting entryway into a feature of the movement that is ripe for further analysis." --The Journal of American History


"Haynes's work is an important intervention... This complicated history, and the tangled memories that persist in the present, deserve the nuanced attention Haynes gives to them... The Last Segregated Hour remains an eminently accessible book due to its readability and clear prose. Speaking to the fact that religion remains culturally meaningful and historically significant, Haynes skillfully uncovers an overlooked history of kneel-ins." --The Marginalia Review of Books


"Readers will learn much from this rich study of how grassroots historical actors produced an intriguing history that continues to shape the face of American Christianity today." --CHOICE


"In this courageous book, Stephen Haynes rejuvenates the great tradition of American public theology. Martin Luther King Jr. once asked of the white churches in the segregated South, 'Who is the God they worship?' but the question confounded King until his death. In The Last Segregated Hour, Stephen Haynes, a scholar of religion living in Memphis, pursues King's haunting words by telling the story of the 1960-65 'kneel-in' campaigns. Like the best storytellers, Haynes attends to the intricacy of character and plot, reveals hidden motivations and creates an artful effect; and in his hands, a remarkable but untold episode of the American civil rights movement becomes high theological drama. Haynes's book is essential reading for anyone interested in religion, race and the quest for beloved community. What a triumph!"--Charles Marsh, Professor of Religious Studies, University of Virginia


"The Last Segregated Hour is masterful historical scholarship. With insightful attention to detail coupled with superlative storytelling, Haynes presents the rarely discussed drama of modern Church-driven racial oppression and Southern-style peacemaking. It will surely be a classic in American religious history because the story of Memphis is paradigmatic for the whole of the American South. This book will usher in a new era of healing and racial solidarity."--Anthony B. Bradley, author of The Political Economy of Liberation: Thomas Sowell and James Cone on the Black Experience


"The Last Segregated Hour is a rare book where depth of historical insight matches intensity of human emotion. Its account of student-led efforts to desegregate a landmark Memphis church is a model of empathy, balance, spiritual wisdom, institutional savvy, and moving biography. Stephen Haynes has drawn on detailed research to tell a powerful story. Read it, weep, but find reasons for hope as well."--Mark A. Noll, author of God and Race in American Politics: A Short History


"Stephen R. Haynes's The Last Segregated Hour is a fascinating and eye-opening case study that illuminates one of the shadowy recesses of civil rights history. Focusing on the Memphis 'kneel-ins' of 1964-65, Haynes deftly reconstructs the often-overlooked movement to desegregate the white churches of the Jim Crow South. The dramatic stories of courage and resistance that populate this important book demonstrate the complex relationship between religion and social justice, documenting the historic struggle to persuade the region's faith-based institutions to practice what they preach."--Raymond Arsenault, author of Freedom Riders: 1961 and the Struggle for Racial Justice


About the Author


Stephen Haynes is Professor of Religious Studies, Rhodes College, and the author of many books, including Noah's Curse: The Biblical Justification of American Slavery.

More About the Author

Stephen R. Haynes is Professor of Religious Studies at Rhodes College in Memphis and Theologian-in-Residence at Idlewild Presbyterian Church. He is the author or editor of eleven books, including The Last Segregated Hour: The Memphis Kneel-Ins and the Campaign for Southern Church Desegregation (Oxford, 2012).

Customer Reviews

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I commend it highly.
John J. Carey
For anyone interested in the civil rights struggle, the history of the southern Protestant church, and the dynamics of social change, this book is highly recommended.
Stephen Montgomery
The stubbornness of some of the church leaders is rather amazing.
MemphisTiger

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Stephen Montgomery on October 22, 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Most of us are familiar with the sit-ins, the demonstrations, the fire hoses, and the boycotts in the struggle for civil rights in the 1950's and 1960's. As a professor at Rhodes College in Memphis, however, Stephen Haynes began hearing about "kneel-ins," the attempts to integrate the last bastion of segregation, the churches. Beginning with an overview of this movement throughout the south, he then focuses on the attempt by black and white college students to worship together at the Second Presbyterian Church in Memphis, Tennessee. His documentation is superb--I spent as much time in the footnotes as I did in the body of the work-- and it includes interviews with a wide range of perspectives...college students who led the movement, church leaders whose position on segregation hardened throughout the crisis, as well as a number of people caught in the middle.
I found it riveting. Though Professor Haynes is a top-notch scholar, his writing style is imminently readable and is more than fair in his critique of the intransigence of the church leaders. He includes interviews with current church leaders who describe how they have tried to move beyond their racist past through attempts at repentance and reconciliation, including a stronger emphasis on ministry within the community. But Haynes also points out their inability to go beyond a "change of hearts" and see some of the larger structural and societal issues of justice.
For anyone interested in the civil rights struggle, the history of the southern Protestant church, and the dynamics of social change, this book is highly recommended. It remains amazing to me how this "historical event" took place in my own lifetime, and reading this made me wonder how future generations might judge the church in its current stands on women and gays.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Veteran Reds Fan on October 11, 2012
Format: Hardcover
I greatly enjoyed reading this book, and learned a lot from it. I am a faculty member at Rhodes College, and so a colleague of the author. I'm also new to Memphis and curious about its very interesting and tangled history of race relations. This book offers a general picture of an overlooked part of the civil rights movement, efforts to desegregate churches, and it focuses on a particular church, Second Presbyterian, in a particular city, Memphis. Our college played a central role in the drama due to its longstanding relationship with Second Pres, among other Memphis Presbyterian churches.

To me the strongest part of the book is the author's even-handed treatment of all the actors. Of course to us the notion of keeping people OUT of church is bizarre--that is a sign of how different the past once was. Those who aimed to open the doors of Second Pres are admirable and dedicated to nonviolence. A few of the deacons and elders, to be sure, did not share the love of Jesus Christ for all people. The clergy were about as much the object of historical forces as they were leaders, and no doubt many of those in the pew wished things could go back to the way they had been. Haynes is fair to all parties and a real master of the brief but insightful character sketch.

A great read for those interested in civil rights history, Memphis, and recent church history.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By James Williamson on October 10, 2012
Format: Hardcover
Steven Haynes' THE LAST SEGREGATED HOUR is a riveting portrait of an important but little-known moment in the civil rights movement, the 1964-65 non-violent campaign to desegregate a large Presbyterian church in Memphis, Tennessee. Using primary sources, including numerous interviews with the individuals involved, Haynes, a professor of Religious Studies at Rhodes College, has reconstructed this deeply troubling chapter in the politics of mainline Protestantism, which could have occurred anywhere in the Jim Crow South. The result is a revealing analysis of how hypocrisy, deeply conflicted motives, and the insidious power of racism can cause good people, pillars of the church and the community, to betray the ideals they espouse and the trust placed in them.

As a teenager, I was an eye-witness as the Ruling Elders of the all-white Second Presbyterian Church formed a human wall across the front portico to bar the entry of an integrated group of local students and faculty into the 11:00 Sunday service, a standoff that was to be repeated often over the coming months, and that very nearly tore the church apart. Reading Hayne's vivid account I felt the same sense of dismay and outrage I first experienced on that long-ago Sunday in 1964. And I was surprised to discover through his research that I was not the only impressionable young person for whom it was a life-changing experience that called into question the institutions I had been taught to trust.

Through the years there has been considerable distortion of the facts and denial of the inconvenient truths surrounding these events by various apologists at Second Presbyterian. Combining an historian's scholarly precision and a novelist's sense of drama, Haynes fearlessly sets the record straight with his no-holds-barred account.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By MemphisTiger on September 20, 2012
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
As a native Memphian, I found this history of two prominent churches fascinating. The stubbornness of some of the church leaders is rather amazing. I also thought the author's point that the elders and ministers were taking a stand against political agitation of the black and white visitors was based in solid theology while the people advocating for change were simply "agitators" and troublemakers was eerily reminscent to how some evangelical churches are currently acting towards women and homosexuals. The people advocating for change are political while the old guard is being faithful to their "beliefs." With this distorted viewpoint the "faithful" Christians in power can seek to take the moral high ground in their bigotry all the while claiming that they are the true victims or "suffering servants." As Robert Penn Warren said, "the past is always a rebuke to the present." To me, Haynes's biggest contribution is what his book can show us about what it really means to love. Will evangelicals who read this book do themselves a favor and apply their past to the present? We shall see.
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