Witnessing and Testifying

After a chapter exploring black women’s religious context and presenting early examples of this work by women of the ante-bellum and post-Reconstruction eras, Ross looks at seven civil rights activists who continue this tradition. They are Ella Josephine Baker, Septima Poinsette Clark, Fannie Lou Hamer, Victoria Way DeLee, Clara Muhammad, Diane Nash, and Ruby Doris Smith Robinson.

In a fascinating narrative style that draws on biography, social history, and original archival research, Ross shows how their moral formation and work reflect both womanist consciousness and practices of witness and testimony, both emergent from the black religious context.

Ross’ major work is engrossing history and moving ethical challenge. Examining black women’s civil rights activism as religiously impelled moral practices brings a new insight to work on the movement and lifts up a paradigm for engagement in the mountainous challenges of contemporary social life.

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Rosetta E. Ross

Rosetta E. Ross is professor of religion at Spelman College. She pioneered scholarly work on religion and Black women’s activism in the U.S. civil rights movement. Ross was an early proponent of womanist theology. Her research explores religion and women’s social action; Christian ethics and society; and religions in the lives of Africana women. She is author of “Witnessing and Testifying: Black Women, Religion, and Civil Rights,” co-author of “The Status of Racial and Ethnic Clergywomen in the United Methodist Church” (with Jung Ha Kim), and co-editor of “Unraveling and Reweaving Sacred Canon in Africana Womanhood” (with Rose Mary Amenga-Etego).

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