Born into a culture where segregation was the accepted way of life, a white pastor reflects on how his life was irrevocably changed by the racial revolution of the 1950s. Dr. Seymour vividly recalls the turning point when, “like explosives with delayed timing devices, the biblical message eventually jolted my life and made it imperative for me to challenge the culture that had cradled me.”
Mirroring the turmoil of the times, Seymour paints a broad panorama of sharply contrasting perspectives—black churches and pastors courageously leading the fight for civil rights, white Christians stirred to action by their belief that personal gospel and social gospel go hand-in-hand, in the midst of diehard churches and political groups clinging to the theory that segregation was God’s intended order of creation.
“Whites Only” is a powerful social commentary confronting Christians with a vital message for ministry: Actively fighting all forms of discrimination is an ever-continuing responsibility to which the church is called. Says noted church historian Winthrop Hudson, “Whites Only” delivers lots of action and drama as Seymour seeks to guide the community as well as the church into facing their long-neglected responsibilities to fellow Christians. It is a heartwarming book to read.”
In “Whites Only” Robert Seymour chronicles in living color the movement of a minister, a congregation, and a region from behind rigid walls of segregation to the open field of conflict, and eventually into new possibilities of racial harmony and social justice. At a time when symptoms of racial prejudice are springing up in places where progress had once been made, perhaps success stories from the past may inspire determination to keep working toward a just society. This revealing saga from a remarkable ministry may offer the wisdom that will save us from a serious relapse into racial bigotry which threatens not only the South but our whole nation. – The Rev. Dr. James A. Forbes Jr., Senior Minister Emeritus, The Riverside Church, New York and President, Healing of the Nations Foundation
Robert Seymour is Minister Emeritus of The Olin T. Binkley Memorial Baptist Church in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, where he served as the first minister for thirty years. He has served on numerous boards and agencies, including the North Carolina Council of Churches and the Carol Woods Retirement Community where he now lives. He is a founder of The Inter-Faith Council for Social Services and the Chapel Hill senior center, aptly named the Robert and Pearl Seymour Center. Focusing in his retirement years on issues related to aging, he has published several books including Aging Without Apology: Living the Senior Years with Integrity and Faith.