america in the 1960s

There Was a Tree in Starksville...

Southwest Georgia is where Lee, Terrell, Dougherty, Schley, and Sumter counties rub up against each other in the Flint River basin, and where creeks with names like Kinchafoonee and Muckalee snake through and spill over, as the water heads south.

The face of the land when I got there was slow, small hills and fields of cotton, peanuts, and corn; turpentine mills and piney woods; the clay a red juice in rain, red dust in hard sun. This is where Otis Redding came from, and Bernice Johnson Reagon, founder of Sweet Honey in the Rock. It’s where Jimmy Carter was raised, and where, during World War II, a white country preacher and his wife established Koinonia, an interracial, radical Christian farm.

This was also the home of the Albany Movement in the early 1960—the first mass movement of the civil rights era to have desegregation of an entire community as its goal—and the starting ground of the international affordable-housing program Habitat for Humanity. And, many years before, it was where my great-grandmother, Mariah Grant, arrived from Florida—with the children she could keep—and settled, at the end of slavery, in a town called Leesburg.

My parents, Dock and Ella, were born there—and left. They left with most of my aunts and uncles, all of my older brothers and sisters, my maternal grandparents, and a generation of my cousins. Almost everybody who could go, it seems, did go north: to Philadelphia, New York, Detroit, and, for most of my family, Chicago. I was born at the end of that journey. My sister Norma and I were the first of the Northern generation of Freeneys. And while cousins and friends from Georgia visited us throughout my Illinois childhood, none of my relatives went back South until the 1960s. I was the first to return.

Read the Full Article

​You've reached the end of our free magazine preview. For full digital access to Sojourners articles for as little as $2.95, please subscribe now. Your subscription allows us to pay authors fairly for their terrific work!
Subscribe Now!

Power Ballads for Jesus

MAKE NO MISTAKE: David Stowe glorifies longhaired hippie Christians with acoustic guitars. Moreover, he loves their successors, Christian rock stars who fill stadiums and blow out speakers with eardrum-shattering songs about living in the light. In his new book, No Sympathy for the Devil, Stowe doesn’t just hail the way that evangelicals effectively embraced aspects of 1960s popular culture to suit their needs. He celebrates the Jesus-loving leaders of the era who carved out a place in contemporary worship practice, where many believers felt estranged from mainstream values and society at large. Using music to spread their message, 1960s evangelicals began experimenting with rock and roll and folk music as a way to reach deep into—and beyond—their base. Stowe believes their work was both transformative and highly successful in making worship relevant to the post-World War II generations of believers.

Stowe’s premise is that the imagined conflict between evangelism and popular culture, in the 1960s or the present day, is just that: imagined. Rather, a symbiotic relationship between the two means both flourish, dependent on the other. Accordingly, Stowe dives into his animated, comprehensive history of the rise of Christian rock the way some believers might dive in for an ocean baptism. His chronicle begins in 1967 California, when the Summer of Love and the Jesus Movement sprang up harmoniously parallel to one another. He lovingly describes a time when Beatles songs were appropriated for covers such as “Jesus in the Sky with Angels,” and notes that many young Christians “found it easier to give up (or never try) free love and drugs than to give up rock music.”

Read the Full Article

​You've reached the end of our free magazine preview. For full digital access to Sojourners articles for as little as $2.95, please subscribe now. Your subscription allows us to pay authors fairly for their terrific work!
Subscribe Now!

Subscribe