Fighting the Good Fight: The Story of the Dexter Avenue King Memorial Baptist Church, 1865-1977, 1st Edition (Paperback) book cover

Fighting the Good Fight

The Story of the Dexter Avenue King Memorial Baptist Church, 1865-1977, 1st Edition

By Houston Bryan Roberson


272 pages

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pub: 2005-06-24
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The Dexter Avenue King Memorial Church played an important role in the Civil Rights movement-it was the backbone of the Montgomery bus boycott, which served as a model for other grassroots demonstrations and which also propelled Martin Luther King, Jr. into the national spotlight.

Roberson chronicles five generations in the life of this congregation. He uses it as a lens through which to explore how the church functioned as a formative social, cultural, and political institution within a racially fractured and continually shifting cultural and civil landscape. Roberson highlights some of the prominent figures associated with the church, such as Martin Luther King, Jr., as well as some of the less prominent figures--for example the many women whose organizational efforts sustained the church.


"Fighting the Good Fight represents a new departure in black church history. It avoids the pitfalls of hagiography, antiquarianism and 'in-house' histories, and portrays Dexter Avenue Church as a living institution with strengths, weaknesses, complexities, and an ongoing character that transcended the influence of any individual minister, even Martin Luther

King, Jr. It could be called the biography of Dexter Avenue Church.

Roberson carefully and skillful places the history of Dexter in the changing political, social, and racial contexts of the period from Reconstruction to 1977. The text is thoughtful and analytical, without being laden with jargon or theory. Roberson has crafted a narrative that is accessible and engaging, at times compelling. Fighting the Good Fight is a jewel of a monograph. Anyone interested in the history, sociology, or theology of the black church will enjoy reading this book." -- Reginald F. Hildebrand Universtity of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

"Fighting the Good Fight is a great book for African American history surveys, examinations of the Civil Rights Movement, and upper-level courses on black communities and leadership. It sets a new standard for the study of black religious institutions." -- Walter Greason, Ursinus College, The Journal of African-American History

"The struggles of the church, renamed Dexter Avenue King Memorial Baptist in 1978, deserve a history of their own. Houston Bryan Roberson's superb first book…tells that history…A master distiller, Roberson calmly delivers one of the most finished books in the sprawling literature on Afro-southern religion. It would be imprecise to say Roberson deserves wide research. The point is that he has earned one." --The Journal of American History

About the Author

Houston Bryan Roberson is Associate Professor of History at The University of the South. He is the co-editor of Teaching the American Civil Rights Movement (Routledge, 2002).

Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
HISTORY / General
HISTORY / United States / General
HISTORY / United States / 20th Century