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Daily Demonstrators

, 392 pages

30 halftones

October 2010



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Daily Demonstrators

The Civil Rights Movement in Mennonite Homes and Sanctuaries

Open Access Edition Available at Project MUSE

The Mennonites, with their long tradition of peaceful protest and commitment to equality, were castigated by the Reverend Martin Luther King Jr. for not showing up on the streets to support the civil rights movement. Daily Demonstrators shows how the civil rights movement played out in Mennonite homes and churches from the 1940s through the 1960s.

In the first book to bring together Mennonite religious history and civil rights movement history, Tobin Miller Shearer discusses how the civil rights movement challenged Mennonites to explore whether they, within their own church, were truly as committed to racial tolerance and equality as they might like to believe. Shearer shows the surprising role of children in overcoming the racial stereotypes of white adults. Reflecting the transformation taking place in the nation as a whole, Mennonites had to go through their own civil rights struggle before they came to accept interracial marriages and integrated congregations.

Based on oral history interviews, photographs, letters, minutes, diaries, and journals of white and African-American Mennonites, this fascinating book further illuminates the role of race in modern American religion.

Tobin Miller Shearer is an assistant professor of history and the African-American Studies coordinator at the University of Montana.

"A unique book which brings to light many important events in the life of the Mennonite Church."


"One of the most interesting works of Mennonite history in some time."

"Daily Demonstrators offers a unique examination of under-explored aspects of the American civil rights movement."

"Daily Demonstrators is well written, and Shearer's conclusions are sound... It is a must read for scholars of the civil rights movement and twentieth-century Mennonite history. It is also recommended for those interested in twentieth-century race relations. With this work, Shearer has taken a difficult subject and woven his evidence into a usable narrative that reveals a striking portrait of resistance, ambivalence,personalized protest, and a concern for justice among American Mennonites during the mid-twentieth century."

"Admirably argued and well researched."

"It shows that the accomplishments of the civil rights movement cannot reasonably be attributed to a few charismatic individuals or a few mass-based nationwide organizations."

"Shearer's focus on the intimate aspects of activism is a scholarly direction to appreciate."

"A careful, compassionate, but critical study of the Mennonites and the civil rights movement from 1918 to 1971."

"Daily Demonstrators presents a new and much-needed perspective on the African American freedom struggle from the 1940s to the 1970s."

"The civil rights movement was, at heart, a religious movement, yet there are relatively few books that locate some of the key developments of that movement in the churches, especially as ably as Shearer has done here."

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