In a meeting without precedent in U. S. history, Jewish rabbis, Roman Catholic priests, and Protestant clergymen, with leading laymen of their faiths, gathered to discuss ways to rid America of racialism.

The National Conference on Religion and Race convened in Chicago, “home of Lincoln,” January 14–17, 100 years to the month after the Emancipation Proclamation freed the Negro from slavery. Convinced that racial discrimination is a moral problem that cannot be solved by legal and economic pressures alone, delegates issued “An Appeal to the Conscience of the American People” with the prayer that it would effect a new emancipation. Purpose of the appeal is to sensitize the conscience of the American people to the moral evil of racism in its many forms.

Admitting that the U. S. government had again shown the way in the recent Supreme Court decisions, delegates spoke frequently of their sinful failure to follow the example of the government and the moral imperatives of their own religious faiths. Discrimination in housing, employment, schooling, transportation, and the use of public facilities in American life, plus various forms of discrimination within their own organizations, were identified as failures of church and synagogue.

Among many practical resolutions was selection of ten large “target cities” as areas in which inter-faith groups will attempt to deal concretely with racial problems on the local, grass root level.

The cities chosen were Chicago, Detroit, San Francisco, Oakland, San Antonio, New Orleans, Seattle, Pittsburgh, Atlanta, and St. Louis.

Dr. Franklin H. Littell of Chicago Theological Seminary told the more than 650 delegates and 300 observers that America is only now shedding its heathenism and becoming Christian. ...

Subscriber access only You have reached the end of this Article Preview

To continue reading, subscribe now. Subscribers have full digital access.

Have something to add about this? See something we missed? Share your feedback here.

Our digital archives are a work in progress. Let us know if corrections need to be made.