Black and blue: Black women, ‘law and order,’ and the church’s silence on police violence

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


During the mid-twentieth century, many southern White religious leaders proudly champi-oned police brutality and other forms of state-sanctioned violence against Black citizens. In Martin Luther King, Jr’s Letter from Birmingham Jail, he defends direct-action non-violent protests as he responds to criticisms and offers his own critique of the clergymen who gave commendations to “the police force for keeping ‘order’ and ‘preventing violence,’” while ignoring the “ugly and inhumane treatment” that the police exerted on non-violent Black protestors who sought to stand up for their rights. King intentionally includes examples of violence against older Black women and girls in his critique. In this article, the historical grounding in King’s critique is expanded to reflect longstanding support of police violence in White communities and a form of sanction through silence in Black communities centered around communal survival in the face of violent White power structures. This article highlights religious communities which ignored at best and sanctioned at worst police violence against Black women and girls and identifies the need for change in the twenty-first century. Ultimately, it calls for leaders to be in proximate location to police violence so when they see it, they can be moved ethically to address it.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number886
Issue number10
StatePublished - Oct 2021

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Religious studies


Dive into the research topics of 'Black and blue: Black women, ‘law and order,’ and the church’s silence on police violence'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this