Laurie Lahey


Established in 2012, the New Jersey Studies Academic Alliance (NJSAA) Graduate Student Award recognizes excellence in graduate writing about New Jersey history. It is presented for a paper written by a graduate student that best represents significant research and writing about any aspect of New Jersey history. One of two 2012 awards went to:

'Too Much Singing:' Christianity and the Limitations of Nonviolence in the Ghetto

By Laurie Lahey


This essay considers the impact of Christianity on radical organizing in Camden, New Jersey during the 1950s and 1960s. In this period, as the ghetto emerged as a conflicted site of revolutionary activity and material demolition, incipient interracial cooperation between African Americans and white clergy developed by virtue of a common language about poverty, which simultaneously politicized Puerto Ricans. Camden, New Jersey, at any given time, the poorest, most dangerous city in the richest, most racially segregated state in the nation, provides a unique opportunity to consider how civil rights activism evolved in a secondary city. This essay complicates the discussion of the civil rights movement by demonstrating Protestant churches' collaboration in a movement that would become dominated by Black Power politics in the late-1960s and 1970s. This essay situates the rise of ecumenical Protestant leadership in Camden within substantial ideological transitions in the city's growing minority population. This study considers how, while Camden activists lamented the lack of community involvement in social protest during the first half of the 1960s, these years were significant as tenuous relationships, galvanized by the racially ambiguous War on Poverty, formed between community leaders and religious organizations.

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.14713/njs.v1i1.18


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