Date Available


Year of Publication


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)

Document Type

Master's Thesis


Arts and Sciences



First Advisor

Dr. Gerald Smith


This paper examines the various responses of progressive white southern clergy to school desegregation events in Arkansas. I investigate why no major white clerical movement emerged to support civil rights, arguing that internal and external factors limited their genuinely motivated witness. National and local clergy endorsed Brown for both religious and practical reasons, arguing that segregation was counter to Christian brotherhood and hurt worldwide evangelism. However, like William Chafe’s progressives in Greensboro, too many clergy worked for school desegregation but ignored African American voices, believing that their demands unnecessarily inflamed the local opposition and unfortunately urged patience and civility instead of justice. Furthermore, clerical intervention proved to be less effective than ministers expected. Sympathetic clergy experienced physical harassment and congregational opposition for speaking out, and local communities simply ignore their messages.

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