“IF GOD IS FOR US, WHO CAN BE AGAINST US”: An Analysis of the Black Church, Political Engagement, and Black College Students

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Richardson, Kelly
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University Honors College, Middle Tennessee State University
African-American millennials seem to have distanced the movement for Black Lives Matter away from the Black Christian church. The movement of Black Lives Matter does not have one leader or leadership group, which has many critics wondering why the group will not use the Black church as a political tool similar to the youth of the Civil Rights Movement. This study examines how the black church is responds to African-American youth and young adult activism. The research provides insight on how African-American millennials believe their new ideologies, political socialization and social identity have pushed the Black church away from the frontlines of the movement, and how Black church leaders impact students’ participation in social activism. Using a survey titled “Civic Engagement Among College-Age Young People in Middle Tennessee,” I surveyed two hundred and fifty college-aged African-American students from three Middle Tennessee Universities (Fisk University, Tennessee State University, and Middle Tennessee State University) about their relationship with the church and their attitudes toward the Black church’s involvement with the Black Lives Matter movement. The results revealed that students are influenced by their ministers’ beliefs and messages. For example, 68.5% of the students whose church leaders showed intense support for the movement for Black Lives Matter said that relations between local police forces and minorities in communities around the country would get worse or stay the same in the next year. Furthermore, the study revealed that students supported and participated in the Black Lives Matter movement when their minister showed overwhelming support for the movement.
church, African, American politics, activism, Black Lives Matter, college activism, religion