Journeys That Opened Up the World: Women, Student Christian Movements, and Social Justice, 1955-1975

By Sara M. Evans | Go to book overview

CHAPTER 3
Rebecca Owen

Daddy blamed the Methodist Church when I, a white child-woman, aged twenty, was arrested in Lynchburg, Virginia. He was correct, though I didn't know it at the time. Late in the afternoon of December 14, 1960, two African American and four white students entered Patterson Drug Store, sat at the lunch counter and ordered coffee. I was in this group that was quickly arrested for trespassing and locked up in the city jail. What had happened to Becky Owen, a scholarship student at Randolph Macon Woman's College, that she not only was involved in this act of civil disobedience, but had worked over the past few months to organize it? What might the Methodist Church have had to do with this unseemly behavior?

As a young child, I loved the story of Methodism's founder. John Wesley's heart was strangely warmed and he was called away from the affluence and formality of the Church of England to minister to the poor in the mines and factories of England and to the “Indians” in America, much like what they told me Jesus did. I have longed for such a conversion from my earliest memories. But the gospel was to first warm me, in an unwelcome way, one Friday afternoon in Saluda, in rural eastern Virginia, in the fall of 1952 when I was twelve. Along with two other seventh-grade girls in a Bible class, I sat in the study of a young, gay Baptist minister, who was soon to be fired and to move to New York. We had heard that the Ku Klux Klan had been marching in the adjacent county, and Reverend Hall asked us if we had any thoughts on the matter. I had many thoughts that I explained confidently. Of course integration was God's will, but it would be immoral to push it on the colored people before they were ready. They would only suffer and be humiliated in white schools, where white children would be so far ahead. Everything separate but equal was what they preferred, except for a few agitators, mostly northern. Furthermore, whites had to be very careful, for it was

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Journeys That Opened Up the World: Women, Student Christian Movements, and Social Justice, 1955-1975
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page *
  • Contents vii
  • Acknowledgments ix
  • Journeys That Opened Up the World *
  • Introduction 1
  • Notes *
  • Chapter 1 - Ruth Harris 15
  • Chapter 2 - Jeanne Audrey Powers 45
  • Chapter 3 - Rebecca Owen 66
  • Chapter 4 - Elmira Kendricks Nazombe 84
  • Chapter 5 - Jill Foreman 104
  • Chapter 6 - Charlotte Bunch 122
  • Chapter 7 - Tamela Hultman 140
  • Chapter 8 - M. Sheila Mccurdy 157
  • Chapter 9 - Alice Hageman 174
  • Chapter 10 - Jan Griesinger 191
  • Chapter 11 - Eleanor Scott Meyers 208
  • Chapter 12 - Nancy D. Richardson 226
  • Chapter 13 - The Repairer of the Breach (isaiah 58:12) 237
  • Chapter 14 - Renetia Martin 240
  • Chapter 15 - Frances E. Kendall 249
  • Chapter 16 - Margarita Mendoza De Sugiyama 262
  • Notes on Contributors 271
  • Index 275
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