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February 12, 2015

Fifty years ago this March, Americans witnessed a rapid and tumultuous turning point in the Civil Rights movement. After the “Bloody Sunday” attacks on African-American marchers in Selma, religious leaders from across the country called on their followers to support the non-violent protests for equal voting rights in the South. Presbyterians joined many others in heeding that call.

A focus on voting rights in Alabama was not new. Frustrated by the continued use of intimidation, poll taxes, and literacy tests to prevent blacks from registering to vote, African-American activists in...

February 11, 2015

On March 21, 1965, thousands of people gathered in the fields around Brown Chapel African Methodist Episcopal Church, with helicopters above and National Guardsmen lining the road to Montgomery. Some came on foot, some came in a convoy of Trailways buses, and one with a 16-mm camera came by air.

PHS has recently digitized two reels of film shot on site during the third Selma march on behalf of the UPCUSA Board of National Missions. In the first reel, color film depicts a group led by Kenneth G. Neigh of the UPCUSA Board...

August 11, 2014

In the middle of the twentieth century, Presbyterians rededicated themselves to ministry in America's inner cities. While the ebb tide of suburbanization drew congregants to new neighborhoods, urban churches were urged to tend to the people right next door. For forty years, Presbyterians' work in the Watts neighborhood of Los Angeles centered on the Westminster Neighborhood Association.

In 1955, the Presbytery of Los Angeles’ Church Extension Board began study of its own outreach to neglected Angeleno neighborhoods, establishing an Inner City Committee. Members were...

May 21, 2014

Sixty years ago, the Presbyterian Church in the U.S.A. held its 166th General Assembly in Detroit. The U.S. auto industry was booming, and the city had acquired considerable wealth and size. At the same time, however, Detroit was experiencing an “inner-city problem.” Presbyterian Life, in the May 15, 1954, issue, wanted to educate its readers and GA commissioners about these problems, even amidst the general glow of mid-1950s prosperity.

The magazine captured the great movement of people that had characterized Detroit during and after World War II. “Practically...

February 12, 2014
United Presbyterians prepared for their 1964 General Assembly in an environment rife with uncertainty and change. Civil rights had become a prominent national issue the year before with the March on Washington and the bombing of the Sixteenth Street Baptist Church in Birmingham that killed four African-American girls. The assassination of President John F. Kennedy had deepened national divides. What, many wondered, would the new year bring?

Eugene Carson Blake, Stated Clerk of the United Presbyterian Church in the U.S.A., was an outspoken proponent of the civil...

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