Oakwood College Students' Quest for Social Justice before and during the Civil Rights Era

By Fisher, Holly | The Journal of African American History, Spring 2003 | Go to article overview

Oakwood College Students' Quest for Social Justice before and during the Civil Rights Era


Fisher, Holly, The Journal of African American History


The Seventh-day Adventist (SDA) Church is a worldwide, multiracial, and conservative Christian denomination with a well-established educational system that includes Oakwood College, located in Huntsville, Alabama, and founded in 1896 as the denomination's only historically black college. Prior to the U.S. Supreme Court's landmark Brown v. Board of Education decision in 1954, Oakwood College students often displayed strong determination and perseverance in organizing their own social and civil rights "movements" within the SDA church. The students occasionally organized demonstrations and even participated in sit-ins and other nonviolent protests in an attempt to eradicate racially discriminatory practices inside and outside the denomination. In the 19th century within the sensitive area of race relations, Seventh-day Adventist leaders opposed slavery, but accepted the practices of segregation and the doctrines of white racial superiority pervasive in the post-Reconstruction era. The conservative SDA tradition in racial matters presented a challenge to the black student activists in the 1930s and the 1960s. This study focuses on the student struggles over civil rights and social justice at Oakwood College. In explaining the social activism of Oakwood College students, it is important to understand the origin of the Seventh-day Adventist denomination, its unique history of race relations, and the purposes for establishing Oakwood College. (1)

ORIGIN AND FOUNDING OF THE SEVENTH-DAY ADVENTIST CHURCH

The Seventh-day Adventist church grew out of an interdenominational movement of the 1840s during the "Second Great Awakening" of religious fervor in the United States. (2) William Miller, an ordained Baptist minister, preached in Low Hampton, New York, and its surrounding cities and towns about "the second coming of Jesus Christ," based on his rigorous study of the book of Daniel in the Old Testament. (3) From his initial preaching at the Baptist Church of Dresden on August 14, 1831, to the fall of 1834, Miller worked as an intermittent speaker in Dresden, New York, Poultney and Pawlet, Vermont, and other towns in the rural areas of the upper Northeast. (4) On September 14, 1833, the congregation of the Baptist Church of Hampton-Whitehall voted to "issue him a license to preach." Likewise, in 1835 he was "credentialed" by several Baptist and other denominational clergymen of New York, Vermont, Massachusetts, and Canada. By 1843 he and Joseph Himes, a Millerite minister, issued the first publications of the "Advent Movement," including the Signs of the Times, Glad Tidings, Midnight Cry, and Advent Chronicle. However, by 1843 traditional clergymen vehemently opposed the Millerite movement because of its strong adherence to setting a specific date for the return of Jesus Christ. Inevitably, the clergymen gave ultimatums to their membership who became Millerites to either renounce these religious convictions or leave their respective churches. However, the Millerites maintained their beliefs, remained in their churches, and continued to spread their religious message. (5)

It was also during this time that Rev. Miller outlined a series of dates for the "return of Jesus Christ," and as a result, the date October 22, 1844, is generally referred to as the day of the "Great Disappointment." (6) Although Christ did not return, some of the followers reevaluated the purposes of the movement, and decided that they should emphasize the "second advent of Christ" through evangelism, and not predicting specific dates for the second coming. (7)

Joseph Bates, a Millerite and Sabbatarian (one who worships on Saturday, the biblical Sabbath), issued a pamphlet in 1844 entitled, "The Seventh-Day Sabbath: A Perpetual Sign," that convinced two Millerites, Ellen Gould White and her husband James White, to become Sabbath observers. (8) After the Great Disappointment, the Millerite movement split into three different camps: the proponents of a return date of Christ after 1844, those who believed in promoting a primitive organization of "Evangelical Adventists," and the group known as "Sabbatarians" who espoused the teaching of the Biblical seventh-day Sabbath. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

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 ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article 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 article

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

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

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 article

Oakwood College Students' Quest for Social Justice before and during the Civil Rights Era
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

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?

Help
Full screen

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access 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

    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.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Author Advanced search

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.