The Library is currently in the middle of digitizing sermons from the Duke University Chapel recordings housed in the Duke University Archives, part of the David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library. Within this collection there are audio and video recordings along with printed sermons. While it takes many people to digitize and publish a collection of this size in its entirety, my part is to digitize the printed sermons.
While I didn’t have time to read all of the sermons, a few titles caught my eye. Moral Crisis in a Troubled South, The Dangerous Gift of Freedom, The South Under God, Demonstrations in the Street and in the House of God, An Address on Occasion of a Memorial Service (for Martin Luther King Jr.), to name a few. All in someway related to the Civil Rights Movement. Here is a link to Moral Crisis in a Troubled South written by Hilrie Shelton Smith and preached in the Duke University Chapel on April 29, 1956. The sermon speaks directly to the state of race relations in the South in 1955 amid civil rights unrest related to the Montgomery Bus Boycott, the Supreme Court decision on Racial Segregation in Schools, and the tragic death of Emmett Till. This sermon speaks of the long road that may be ahead of us to achieve a nation of racial equality. Indeed.
This sermon struck me because of its direct reference to specific events related to the Civil Rights Movement (at least more than the others) and how closely it echoes current events across the nation, particularly the story of Emmett Till’s horrific murder and the fact that his mother chose to have an open casket so that everyone could see the brutality of racism.
I am in awe of the strength it must have taken Emmett’s mother, Mamie Till, to make the decision to have an open casket at her son’s funeral.
Duke has many collections related to the history of the Civil Rights Movement. This collection provides a religious context to the events of our relatively recent past, not only of the Civil Rights Movement but of many social, political and spiritual issues of our time.
Please visit Duke Digital Collections to see additional digitized material related to the Civil Rights Movement.
Again, here is a link to the sermon: Moral Crisis in a Troubled South