Atlanta: E.S.C.R.U., [c.1962]. Broadside poster (22 by 17 inches), printed in two colors. Folded in quarters with vertical and horizontal creasing, else Fine. Item #1272
"BEHOLD, HOW GOOD AND JOYFUL A THING IT IS FOR BRETHREN TO DWELL TOGETHER IN UNITY!"
Superb Civil Rights poster—illustrated by Ade Bethune for the Episcopal Society for Cultural and Racial Unity (ESCRU). Ready for framing.
African Americans—full and equal members of the Episcopal Church by baptism—were kept apart as the Church effectively embraced the "separate but equal" racial segregation prevalent in American society. African Americans were refused admission to Church-run school and seminaries and denied the opportunity to worship with white congregations. The Church instead ministered to black Americans separately, consecrating bishops for "colored work," funding black colleges, establishing black congregations, and operating a special office for "Negro work." The Episcopal Society for Cultural and Racial Unity, formed in December 1959 by 100 ordained and lay Episcopalians, sought to confront and remove all vestiges of segregation from the life of the Church. Founded by the Reverends John Morris, Neil Tarplee and Arthur Walmsley, the ESCRU sought to publicize long-standing problems of racial segregation and division in the Church and to promote racial unity.
The artist is uncredited but this image of racial brotherhood was almost certainly created by Ade Bethune, a prominent artist of the Liturgical Movement and the Catholic Worker. A statement is printed below the image: "Through prayer and the strength of gathered concern; by public comment and support for the Church's teaching; and program; through information services and leadership resources; and in individual and corporate action by members in local situations—we seek the greater wholeness of the Church and general community, and an overcoming of separation and segregation, so that brothers may dwell together in unity and so lift up Jesus Christ that He may draw all men unto Him." Adapting the tactics of the larger struggle for Civil Rights, ESCRU was able to challenge the complacency of the Church hierarchy. But a reliance on the visibility of white members made the organization less effective over time and the Society for Cultural and Racial Unity had folded by 1970. Episcopal Archives.org.