She said she experienced hostility from whites many times that summer.

Once, she said she and a couple of other female volunteers tried to worship at the local Episcopal Church. They wanted to participate in Communion.

Soon after they'd sat down, she said, the elders of the church tapped them on the shoulders and told them they weren't welcome.

They walked out to the church's lobby and spoke to the elders there.

Duncanwood said she explained she'd been raised Episcopalian and that she wanted to join in Communion.

She said the men reiterated they should leave. Then they pulled their hands out of their pockets, revealing that they had on brass knuckles. The women went outside and found the tires on their car slashed.
(Interview with Karen Duncanwood in



  1. What a lovely Christian way to behave. Mind you, if she’d walked in to your average Scottish Episcopal church – nobody would have barred her from communion but nobody would have spoken to her either, beyond “Good Morning”, and not because of the ‘Freedom Summer’ thing – it’s just not done.

  2. It’s horrible, just horrible. And I’m sure it’s true.

    But here’s the thing: I was born in Louisiana and then spent most of my childhood in Vicksburg, Mississippi. (Yes, during the nightmare years. I was born in 1949.) I actually credit growing up as an Episcopalian (as well as having been born to enlightened parents) for my own early understanding that the racism and segregation I saw all around me were wrong.

    So, yes, there were some racists during that time who were Episcopalians but the Episcopal Church itself was on the forefront of the civil rights movement of the 50s and 60s.

  3. Altho the “bad guys” were (or claimed to be) Episcopalians, so was she. As was Jonathan Daniels, an Episcopalian seminarian, who was murdered for going to the south to support the Freedom Rides.

  4. I understand how a great many things happened. I was a child of the South. My parents were Christians who lived their faith in their dealings with other people of any race, told me that Dr. King was right, but then told me to never repeat that outside of our family. To repeat it was to bring danger or even death down on our family. Fear was why so many things were allowed to happen. Good people were afraid to stand up for what they knew in their hearts was right. That is why I now take a pro-active stand on GLBT issues. When I became an adult, I decided that I would never be passive on any issue again. By not speaking out, you give tacit approval.