"The Aquinas of the Rednecks": reconciliation, the southern character, and the bootleg ministry of Will D. Campbell

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Publication type Article
JournalThe Sixties: A Journal of History, Politics and Culture
ISSN (print)1754-1328
ISSN (electronic)1754-1336
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The white activist and celebrated author Will D. Campbell was a Mississippi-born Southern Baptist minister who worked in the South during the civil rights movement, formally for the National Council of Churches, but informally in support of civil rights organizations and as a mediator in southern communities. This article examines both Campbell’s career arc and his semi-autobiographical fiction to understand Campbell’s unusual ministry and theology. In studying Campbell’s career and how he constructed his southern identity, and particularly how he embraced his “redneck” heritage, this article hopes to rescue Campbell from caricature by journalists and some indifference from scholars, first by detailing the dimensions with which Campbell defined his Southernness and how that impelled his ministry, and second by capturing his theological evolution as embodying many contradictions of the Sixties more generally.
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