Sewing Circles, Dime Suppers, and W. E. B. Du Bois: A History of the Clinton A. M. E. Zion Church offers fresh insight into a small New England church’s role in the national civil rights movement. This is the original edition. An updated edition is also available, with the title The African American Community in Rural New England: W. E. B. Du Bois and His Boyhood Church.
Sewing Circles, Dime Suppers, and W. E. B. Du Bois: A History of the Clinton A. M. E. Zion Church
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Sewing Circles, Dime Suppers, and W. E. B. Du Bois: A History of the Clinton A. M. E. Zion Church is the story of a small New England church’s role in the national civil rights movement. Featuring more famous figures such as Du Bois, this book also tells the story of the church’s lesser known members who struggled to keep it in existence, all the while fighting for their rights in a shifting social climate.
It is, in fact, a heroic tale, the story of a small group of African Americans who founded and have maintained their church in a small New England town for nearly 140 years. The church is the Clinton African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church and the town is Great Barrington, Massachusetts – the hometown of the leading African American scholar and activist W. E. B. Du Bois. Du Bois attended the church as a youth and wrote about it; these writings are one source for this history. As biographer David Levering Lewis wrote:
The AME Zion Church turns out not to have been “sometimes attended” but a place of continual and important social reference for him. He filed regular reports to the Globe and Freeman detailing the church’s busy doings – the AME Zion Sewing Society’s monthly supper at the home of Mr. Jason Cooley (April 10); the well-attended quarterly-meeting services, attracting worshipers from Lee and Stockbridge (May 29); . . . and, in the last report for 1883 (December 26), the startling news that that fifteen-year-old Willie [Du Bois] is secretary of the Zion Sewing Society.
Novelist Jervey Tervalon, author of Dead Above Ground and Understand This writes that “This book offers an intimate historical view of the Black church and Black life in rural New England: the world that W.E.B. Du Bois was born into.”
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