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Religion: Race & Religion in America

An online guide for Religion with information, links and tips for library resources.


This guide is for students taking Dr. Adam Roberts's "Race and Religion in America" course (RLGN 2230, Spring 2018).

It lists some sources and provides link to others.  Please don’t hesitate to see the reference librarian for assistance; the best resources for your own topic may not be mentioned on this guide.

You may also want to look at other guides, such as Loren Pinkerman’s guide on “School Desegregation & Civil Rights.”


Reference books are often the best place to start your research.  They’ll provide background information on a topic, (usually) a bibliography of other sources you can consult, and often they’ll give you ideas of directions in which you can take your research, or search terms you can use.


The GALE Virtual Reference Library database provides PDF full text for several reference books, including two we also have in print:

  • Encyclopedia of Religion (15 volumes, call number REF BL 31 .E466 2006)
  • Dictionary of American History (10 volumes, REF E 174 .D522 2003)


Other reference books in Lewis Library (on the main level) include:

  • The Encyclopedia of Christianity (REF BR 95 .E8913 1999, 5 volumes; includes articles on “Civil Rights Movement,” “Racism,” etc.)
  • Encyclopedia of African American History 1896 to the Present (REF E 185 .E5453 2009, 5 vols.)
  • Encyclopedia of African American Culture and History (REF E 185 .E54 2006, 6 vols.)


Note the call numbers, which indicate a book’s subject, for example:

  • B – religion (BR for Christianity)
  • E – American history and civilization (E 184-185 for African American history)
  • K – law (e.g. Encyclopedia of the American Constitution, 6 volumes, REF KF 4548 .E533 2000, for information on Brown v. Board of Education)



Use our online catalog to find books and videos.

You can use a “Words or phrase” search, or determine the subject heading to find more books on a specific subject.  When you find a good book, click on “Catalog record” and note the “Subject” terms.  Here are a few used in our catalog:

Subject:  Race relations--Religious aspects--Christianity.

Racism--Religious aspects--Christianity.

Civil rights--Religious aspects

Race relations--Religious aspects--Methodist Church--History--20th century.

Civil rights movements--Southern States--History--20th century.

White supremacy movements--Southern States--History--20th century.

African Americans--Civil rights--Southern States--History--20th century.

Subject:  United States--Race relations--History--20th century.

You can also, of course, do a “Subject” search for a person, such as Martin Luther King or Malcolm X.


Here’s a small sampling of books (currently on the lower level of the library) that may be of interest; you’ll find more in the same call number areas.

  • Christianity and Race in the American South (BR 535 .H379 2016)
  • Freedom’s Coming:  Religious Culture and the Shaping of the South from the Civil War through the Civil Rights Era (BR 535 .H388 2005)
  • The Color of Christ:  The Son of God & the Saga of Race in America (BR 515 .B59 2012)
  • Strangers in Zion:  Fundamentalists in the South, 1900-1950 (BR 535 .G577 2001; use the index to identify the sections that cover “race relations”)
  • Religion in the American South:  Protestants and Others in History and Culture (BR 535 .R422 2004) (last chapter on “racism… in Southern religious history”)
  • The Cross and the Lynching Tree (BR 563 .N4 C648 2011)
  • Witnessing and Testifying:  Black Women, Religion, and Civil Rights (BR 563 .N400 R67 2003)
  • African American Religious History:  A Documentary Witness  (BR 563 .N400 A359 1999)
  • Divided by Faith:  Evangelical Religion and the Problem of Race in America (BT 734.2 .E488 2000)
  • Cambridge Companion to American Methodism (BX 8235 ,C36 2013; essays on “Methodists and Race,” “African-American Methodists and the Making of the Civil Rights Movement,” etc.)
  • The Methodist Unification:  Christianity and the Politics of the Jim Crow Era (BX 8382 .A15 D38 2008, also available as an e-book)
  • Massive Resistance:  The White Response to the Civil Rights Movement (E 185.61 .L5196 2006)
  • Before Brown:  Civil Rights and White Backlash in the Modern South (E 185.61 .B36 2004)
  • Methodists and the Crucible of Race (E 185.61 .M985 2004)
  • This Worldwide Struggle:  Religion and the International Routes of the Civil Rights Movement (E 185.61 .A98 2017)
  • A Stone of Hope:  Prophetic Religion and the Death of Jim Crow (E 185.61 .C5435 2004)
  • Dividing Lines:  Municipal Politics and the Struggle for Civil Rights in Montgomery, Birmingham, and Selma  (E 185.93 .A300 T48 2002, also as e-book from EBSCO or ProQuest)
  • In the Shadow of Selma:  The Continuing Struggle for Civil Rights in the South (F 334 .S4 F58 2004)
  • Protest at Selma:  Martin Luther King, Jr., and the Voting Rights Act of 1965 (JK 1929 .A2 G37)
  • The Autobiography of Martin Luther King, Jr.  (E 185.97 .K5 A52 1998)
  • The Autobiography of Malcolm X   (E 185.97 .L5 A3)
  • Religion and the Rise of Jim Crow in New Orleans  (F 379 .N599 N4 2005)
  • When the Church Bell Rang Racist:  The Methodist Church and the Civil Rights Movement in Alabama (F 535 .N400 C65 1998)


           A tip on searching the online catalog:  the truncation symbol is $, so religi$ will retrieve both “religion” and “religious”; raci$ will retrieve “racism,” “racial,” etc.

Don’t hesitate to see the reference librarian for assistance.  He has access to a database that can search the Tables of Contents for many books the library owns (which may or may not show up in the catalog).  He can also order on interlibrary loan any books (or articles) you want that the library doesn’t own.


You can access some of our e-books through the online catalog; others are in “E-book Central” (use this link or click “Find eBooks” on the library home page).  Our e-books include:


  • Please select “Read Online” or “PDF.”  Don’t use the “Full Download” button, which prevents anyone else from reading the book.  You can read the entire book online; you can usually download or print chapters or pages.



If you want articles from periodicals (journals, magazines, or newspapers), we have several databases you can try.

  • ATLAS – the best database for articles from Religion journals
  • America:  History & Life – an excellent database for articles on American history and civilization
  • Academic Search Complete – a “general” database with journals and magazines from many fields (including Religion and History)
  • SocINDEX – Sociology Journals
  • JSTOR – provides PDF full text for many scholarly journal articles
    • Unlike most databases, JSTOR searches the full text of articles, so use quotation marks for phrases:  “civil rights,” “jim crow”
    • Use the Advanced search to limit your search to “Articles” or to the disciplines you want (such as Religion, History, and African American Studies)
  • Reader’s Guide to Periodical Literature – the best database if you want magazines from before 1982 (e.g., during the time of the civil rights movement).  Most aren’t in full text, but see me; we have some of these magazines in Lewis Library (and articles from Life Magazine, such as this 1965 article on Selma, are online in Google Books), and can get the others from other libraries on interlibrary loan.
  • Atlanta Constitution Historical Full Text – if you want newspaper articles from before 1984.  Again, use quotation marks for phrases.  For other newspaper databases, see our “Newspapers” library guide.  (You can also register for free online access to the New York Times; see this page.)


            In most databases (except those that search the full text, such as JSTOR and newspaper databases), you’ll want to use Boolean operators (AND, OR, NOT) to formulate your search, for example:


            civil rights AND Georgia

            race AND religion AND (america OR united states)


            You may also want to use truncation, e.g., nonviolen* retrieves “nonviolence” and “nonviolent”; segregat* retrieves “segregation,” “segregated,” “segregationists,” etc.

For a review of tips on database searching, see this guide.


Here are links to a few of the articles available in the databases above (note the dates):

"LaGrange College Students Polled on Integration.”  Atlanta Constitution Dec. 17, 1963, p. 18

Hurt, John J.  “Klan Rallies Strength:  Stages Comeback in Georgia—Ministers Deplore Rebirth of Movement.”  Christian Century 65.52 (Dec. 29. 1948) 1440-1441.

Lloyd, Vincent W.  “Organizing Race:  Taking Race Seriously in Faith-based Community Organizing.”  Journal of Religious Ethics 42.4 (Dec. 2014):  640-660.



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