Title

Inviting the Divine: The Role of Clerical Clothing during the Civil Rights Movement

Presentation Type

Presentation

Abstract

During the Civil Rights Movement, the Catholic Church underwent many internal changes as a result of the Second Vatican Council. The church’s new views toward human rights often conflicted with the actions and policies of southern segregationist Dioceses. But when clergyfolk who supported integration made a stand and protested in favor of equality, they were met with special obstacles. This paper examines the role clerical clothing played in the Civil Rights Movement. When priests wore their clerical collars, and nuns wore their habits in political action, it was not only a form of protest; it was prayer. Drawing on the private papers and correspondence of the men and women who marched and fought for change as well the accounts of those who threatened, attacked, and in some cases murdered them, this paper shows that the members of the clergy who wore their religious garb during political protest faced increased hardships and violence. The actions of the clergy during this time are well documented, but this paper, by focusing on clerical garb, represents a new understanding of its role in the movement.

Category

Humanities

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Inviting the Divine: The Role of Clerical Clothing during the Civil Rights Movement

UC 331

During the Civil Rights Movement, the Catholic Church underwent many internal changes as a result of the Second Vatican Council. The church’s new views toward human rights often conflicted with the actions and policies of southern segregationist Dioceses. But when clergyfolk who supported integration made a stand and protested in favor of equality, they were met with special obstacles. This paper examines the role clerical clothing played in the Civil Rights Movement. When priests wore their clerical collars, and nuns wore their habits in political action, it was not only a form of protest; it was prayer. Drawing on the private papers and correspondence of the men and women who marched and fought for change as well the accounts of those who threatened, attacked, and in some cases murdered them, this paper shows that the members of the clergy who wore their religious garb during political protest faced increased hardships and violence. The actions of the clergy during this time are well documented, but this paper, by focusing on clerical garb, represents a new understanding of its role in the movement.