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Willis Duke WeatherfordRace, Religion, and Reform in the American South$
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Andrew McNeill Canady

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780813168159

Published to Kentucky Scholarship Online: May 2017

DOI: 10.5810/kentucky/9780813168159.001.0001

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A Liberal but Never an Activist

A Liberal but Never an Activist

(p.149) 5 A Liberal but Never an Activist
Willis Duke Weatherford

Andrew McNeill Canady

University Press of Kentucky

This chapter examines how Weatherford’s views on race continued to evolve from the mid-1930s until his death in 1970. In this period he worked for ten years as a professor at Fisk University and stayed involved in racial concerns. He also authored two books on race relations: one coedited with the noted African American sociologist Charles Spurgeon Johnson, and another that called for churches to be at the forefront of desegregation. Nevertheless, Weatherford in many ways left the subject of race after 1946, as the pace of change on racial issues moved more quickly than he was comfortable with. His withdrawal from racial efforts was typical of other liberals who had been involved in the issue before the 1950s, who, like him, never became activists in the era’s nonviolent civil disobedience efforts. One important point of this chapter, however, is to note that Weatherford began to shift his views on Jim Crow, finally calling for its end by 1943. This section shows the change over time of his views and how larger events (World War II and the Great Depression) and his own personal experiences (his intimate interactions with black students and professors at Fisk while on the faculty there) moved him along.

Keywords:   southern liberalism, Fisk University, race relations, civil rights, education, Charles Spurgeon Johnson

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