“Manifesto on Racial Beliefs” published
(some) Manifesto signers, 1957
On this date in 1957, a “Manifesto on Racial Beliefs” was published by The Atlanta Constitution.
Dr. Allison Williams, Senior Pastor of Trinity Presbyterian Church, and 79 other white Atlanta pastors, signed the Manifesto, which was also published in The Atlanta Journal. This document clearly stated their opposition to the "hatred, defiance, and violence" which followed the Supreme Court's granting of "full privileges of first-class citizenship" to Black Americans through the 1954 Brown vs. Board of Education decision.
Throughout the South, violent acts against Blacks had erupted, led by Ku Klux Klan and White Citizens' Councils and supported in many places by elected officials and business and professional leaders. Williams said that, because of the "tremendous political and social tension" of the time, these 80 men believed that, as ministers of the Gospel, they had a responsibility "not to be silent concerning their convictions."
The publication of the manifesto represented bold defiance of the prevailing attitude in many areas in the city of Atlanta, the surrounding communities, and the state. Fully aware of the potential personal and professional risks, it established these men as courageous and unafraid to stand for that which is "true, honest, and just".
Pictured are (front from left) Dr. Monroe F. Swilley, Dr. Harry A. Fifield, Dr. Herman L. Turner, Rev. Milton L. Wood. In back are Dr. Charles L. Allen, Rev. Harrison McMains, Dr. Dow Kirkpatrick, and Rev. Robert E. Lee.
Regional Council of Churches of Atlanta