Billy Graham Holds First Integrated Crusade in Chattanooga, TN
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In the 1950s, the majority of southern white evangelicals worried that civil rights activism was a communist fifth column designed to win the Cold War by destroying racial harmony in the segregated South. Many white evangelists, like Billy Graham, accommodated that paranoia by holding segregated revival meetings in the South. However, Graham's racial views started to shift as he spent time overseas. He realized that segregation horrified global Christians, gave the Soviet's a gift-wrapped opportunity for propaganda, and was not supported in the Bible.Graham's first integrated crusade was in Chattanooga, Tennessee in 1953. After the ropes cordoning off the black section of the auditorium were removed, Graham told the ushers who threatened to put them back up, "Either these ropes stay down or you can go on and have the revival without me." From then on, Graham permanently adopted the policy of holding only integrated revivals.
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Graham, William "Billy"
Billy Graham preaching- Bundesarchiv, Bild 194-0798-29- Lachmann, Hans (CC BY-SA 3.0)
Billy Graham portrait- Wikimedia Commons
Chattanooga auditorium interior- Hathi Trust
Chattanooga, Tennessee- Hathi Trust
Miller, Steven P., 2009. Billy Graham and the Rise of the Republican South. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press.
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Affliated with: Pennsylvania State University, Ph.D. in History