Churches not lily white
I appreciate that the Hook honored the 50th anniversary of Brown v. Board of Education with a narrative of local civil rights activism in the 1950's and '60's ["On Brown's 50th," cover story, April 8]. However, to me– a student of theology and American religious history– your article sadly reaffirms that the media and popular culture continue to ignore the religious landscape so fundamental to the Civil Rights Movement on a national and local level.
The story of Charlottesville's massive resistance to school desegregation deserves an honest and complete telling that not only honors past courage but also confronts wounds still present from sins left unconfessed.
Such a story must include an account of the majority of white churches who either remained in complacent silence or actively provided the means for massive resistance to succeed in the fall of 1958 by opening up church space for the white makeshift school units– churches that still refuse to acknowledge their past participation. (See "Christ Episcopal Church Amidst Massive Resistance: A Theological Examination of Christian Duty," http://livedtheology.org).
An honest retelling must also include respected African-American pastors like the late Rev. Henry B. Mitchell, former rector of Trinity Episcopal Church, whose faithful activism and published sermons in the Charlottesville-Albemarle Tribune manifest on a local level that the Civil Rights Movement of the1950s was characteristically rooted in the black church.
By ignoring the roles the white and black churches played in either hindering or fostering what the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. called "the beloved community," we as a town impede much needed healing and continue in what King called "an obnoxious negative peace."
If we cannot speak honestly about events that occurred 50 years ago, we will not be able to realistically confront the problems that still exist. Consequently, a large portion of Charlottesville may bask in the glory of Sperling and Sander's ranking of our town as the number one place to live without ever asking "for whom?" and "at what cost?"