Rhetoric, Religion and the Civil Rights Movement, 1954-1965

By Davis W. Houck; David E. Dixon | Go to book overview

§95 Reverend Duncan Howlett

The Reverend Duncan Howlett’s biography appears in the introduction to his March 12, 1961 sermon in Lynchburg, Virginia. In this profoundly moving and image-laden sermon to his congregants at All Souls Church, Reverend Howlett begins with the archetypal image of the sea, specifically the “broad river of racial prejudice.” As an “evil-smelling and sludge-laden” river, it calls to mind the countless murders and lynchings of black Americans, where rivers capriciously hid and exposed corpses. Howlett asks his listeners to see from both sides of that river, from the “prosperous” side as well as the oppressed side. The basic problem, though, is not in privilege or its opposite, but in the “mists” of prejudice that rise from the river and “distort our vision in both directions.” Such mists cause us to see what we want to see, thereby creating even greater distances across the river. Even so, Howlett thinks he hears a new song, emanating from the heart of the black man and heard in the white community. The emerging river ballad is a song of love, a song of a better future, and a song of faith. It is also a patriotic anthem paying white America the ultimate compliment, for it says to them I believe in your Constitution, I believe in your capacity for love and for justice. “Can we not see that upon his shoulders, bent with the toil of centuries, we are lifted up? Can we not see that it is given to us in this century to rise to moral greatness, albeit on the back of those we have miserably oppressed?” Howlett closes his sermon by adopting the prophetic voice, beseeching his fellow white Americans to cross the river, to build the bridge and to honor God by so doing.


The Two Way Barrier

All Souls Church (Unitarian), Washington, D.C.
November 1963

President Kennedy recently declared that the civil rights struggle now in process in the United States is a “two way street.” Thus he summed up, in an almost offhand remark, the most fundamental and perhaps the least noticed aspect of the entire civil rights movement. Today the Negro and the white communities stare at each other across a broad river of racial prejudice, flowing down from the most remote regions of man’s history, swollen to a flood by the great tributary of American slavery and the pattern of discrimination and segregation that followed upon it.

The landscape of either side of the river looks quite different from that on the other side. What you see depends on where you happen to be when first you raise your eyes to look across it. Many, on both sides, have not done that as yet. They have never even been to the banks of the river. They do not really know what segregation means. A few hardly know the river is there at all, although this number has been sharply reduced within the last few years. More have looked upon the river, or across it, and yet have

-656-

Notes for this page

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Project items

Items saved from this book

This book has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this book

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this page

Cited page

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited page

Bookmark this page
Rhetoric, Religion and the Civil Rights Movement, 1954-1965
Table of contents

Table of contents

Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this book

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen
/ 999

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.