Professor's Book Honored by American Society of Church History

Dupont photo

A book by an Eastern Kentucky University faculty member has earned the annual Frank S. and Elizabeth D. Brewer Prize from the American Society of Church History.

“Mississippi Praying: Southern White Evangelicals and the Civil Rights Movement, 1945-1975,” by Dr. Carolyn Dupont, assistant professor of history, was lauded by the review committee as “profoundly impressive for its analytical rigor, clarity and breadth of vision” and for its “strong and convincing argument” that white evangelical churches were essential to Mississippi’s maintenance of segregation and the fight against the civil rights movement.

Dupont’s book, published in 2013 by NYU Press, examines the faith communities at ground-zero of the racial revolution that rocked America. The book, she said last year, was “an effort to explain how Mississippians’ zeal for what can only be described as white supremacy thrived amidst their intense commitments to evangelical Christianity.”

Dupont said she will be “pleased and gratified” to accept the honor at the next business meeting of the ASCH in New York on Jan. 4. “Since I think it (the book) offers an important message about both our past and our present, knowing that I will heard is immensely rewarding."

Reviews, mostly from the scholarly community, have been positive.

“I think there is also a great deal of curiosity about this subject from people of faith who want to know how their traditions and communities met the challenge of the civil rights movement. There are some tough pills to swallow in the book – especially my contention that southern white religious communities actually often worked against the civil rights movement. So, it takes a bit of humility and some soul-searching to read the book.”

Dupont is now working on a book that is part history and part family memoir.

“I plan to use the story of my own family, with its roots in Texas, to demonstrate how social and economic structures have benefited whites in ways that go beyond individual merit and that are passed down through generations,” she said. “Members of my own family have been enormously successful, but in large part this success was ensured by the systems that worked to our advantage as white people.”

Dupont joined the EKU faculty in 2004. She teaches American history, with specializations in religion in American history, African American history, and the civil rights movement.

The Brewer Prize, accompanied by $1,500, is awarded annually by the ASCH to an outstanding first book.

Published on December 02, 2014

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