Themes

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Last Reviewed on June 19, 2019, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 239

The themes of God's Long Summer include religious motivation, racism, and the work of the Civil Rights movement.

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The motivating power of religion is shown in the book as a force for both good and evil. On one hand, it motivated some pastors to preach for integration and support the fight for equal rights. On the other hand, it motivated people like Sam Bowers to plan the murder of equal rights activists because he believed the movement was a plot against Christians.

Racism is a central theme of the book. It's often discussed in relation to whether it's a sin to be racist. Certain religious officials were guided by the idea that racism wasn't as bad a sin as many others. This kept them from working toward integration or speaking out against acts of hate. Others believed that integration was necessary and worked with the Civil Rights movement.

The work of the Civil Rights movement is a major theme as well. For example, the question of whether white people could be beneficial to the groups fighting for equal rights is raised. Activists like Fannie Lou Hamer believed that white people could be forgiven the sin of racism and work toward helping other people achieve equal rights. Cleveland Sellers, on the other hand, came to believe that they shouldn't be working with the movement. Though he later reversed his opinion, some groups had already rejected white volunteers at that point.

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