Research Update: Religion & the War on Poverty

Emma Folwell gives us an update on her research so far and what she plans to do over the summer. Vacation? What vacation?!

This year I’ve been exploring the relationship between religion and the War on Poverty. Building on my work on the white resistance to the War on Poverty in Mississippi, I’ve been looking to understand the Catholic Church’s response to the arrival of federal anti-poverty funds in the state. The Catholic Church in Mississippi was (and still is) a small minority of the state’s heavily church-going population, and in the early 1960s black Catholics were a minority within this minority. But I’ve found that many black Catholics and some white Catholics were active in civil rights struggles and even more involved in the state’s War on Poverty. The Church and a number of individual activists played a significant role in shaping one of the biggest anti-poverty programs in the state, a job training and adult education program called Strategic Training and Redevelopment.

In April, I attended the annual conference of the British Association for American Studies at Canterbury Christ Church University in order to share my research. It was a great conference in a beautiful location, made even better by the glorious sunshine. Unfortunately the end of semester delayed my arrival, but I was able to hear Prof. Marjorie Spruill give an incredible keynote address about her work on women’s rights in the 1970s. I was also able to hear some fascinating papers from colleagues on the latest research into civil rights activism – from the airport desegregation campaigns of the early 1960s to police brutality and sexual violence against African American women.

 Looking forward, this summer I’ll be working on final edits to my monograph, Fighting the War on Poverty and preparing for some very exciting conferences I’ll be attending in Dallas in November and Washington DC in January. More details to follow!

For more on Emma Folwell ‘s work, check out her profile page on the Newman website.


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