Thursday, February 25, 2010

Gaps in the Christian Echo

Founded in 1902 by G. P. Bowser (1874-1950), the Christian Echo is the oldest periodical in circulation among African American Churches of Christ. . . . Unfortunately for historians, in 1946 archival materials on the early issues of the Christian Echo were destroyed in an automobile accident as G. P. Bowser was moving to Detroit. Therefore, early issues have been difficult to locate, complicating research. (Jesse Curtis Porter, in Encyclopedia of the Stone-Campbell Movement, p. 191).

The question of whether the U.S. Olympic team should participate in the 1936 Summer Games at Berlin was a big issue in the black community in this country. A good number of those who qualified for the team were African-American. Because of Nazi Germany's racism, there were calls for an American boycott of the Games. Some people wondered about the safety of black as well as Jewish athletes in Hitler's Germany.

But there were several other parts to this story. For example, some of the leading members of the International Olympic Committee--which had, in 1931, extended the invitation to Berlin to host the Games--were American big shots. They were clearly embarrassed by the turn of events in Germany beginning in 1933, when Hitler had seized control. They didn't want to make any changes. Were some of them anti-Semites themselves?

At the same time, some in the black community wanted their athletes to go to Berlin and practically disprove racism by winning in their events. In retrospect, this position has been vindicated, above all, by the four gold medals won by Jesse Owens and the hero status he attained in Berlin.

Also, some people in the U.S. were saying, in effect, "Germany isn't any more racist than we are. So why not go?" This was an embarrassing admission, and had the effect calling into question America's own terrible history and condition.

Along this line, one of my current research interests is to find out whether the Christian Echo ever weighed in on these questions at the time. But the back issues of the Echo for the pertinent years are unavailable so far as I can tell. Can anyone help me out with this? I wonder if there' any chance that an unbroken set of the Echo can be put together? That, I think, would be a worthwhile project.

Can some of you Stone-Campbell historians be some assistance here? I need all the help I can get. Thanks!


Anonymous said...

Have you searched HUGSR's library database? Here are the older issues they have:

v.30, v.34-v.88 (1935, 1939-1950, 1968-2000) FILM
v.63, v.67-v.84 (1968-1994) BOUND PER/ 286.6/ C555e

Frank Bellizzi said...

Hi, Matt. Thanks for passing along this info. I had taken a look at what our alma mater held. The volume on film for 1935might prove interesting. Naturally, for my topic, I'd want to go back and get some of the years just before that which, alas, are missing.

At this point, I don't even know if the subject came up in the Echo. I do know that it was discussed in the major African-American newspapers of the day.

Thanks again.

Carisse said...

The Christian Echo was collected and microfilmed as Matt lists. Most of the CofC schools have that film. In addition, the following schools are known to have paper copies. There is no library that has any issue before vol 30. No surviving copies of issues of the Christian Echo before then are known to be extant.

ABILENE CHRISTIAN UNIV, BROWN LIBR 30,69,71-72,76-(1971,197...




FLORIDA COL LIBR 27,52,63/67-68 (1932,...


YORK COL v.69(1971)-77(1978)


DAVID LIPSCOMB UNIV 34-46,60-68,76-(1939-...


HARDING GRAD SCH OF RELIGION LIBR 30, 34-46, 63-(1935, ...

Frank Bellizzi said...

Wow, Carisse. Thank you for this list. I really appreciate the help.

Okay, here's my plan. I'm going to contact Jack Evans, Sr. at Southwest Christian College and see if he might undertake a push to locate missing volumes among the current subscribers to the Echo and the alumni of SWCC. Seems like there have to be in basements and attics, etc. lots of old copies. We'll see what happens. I'm told that Don Haymes made a run at this years ago, but with limited success.

Anonymous said...

Wow! Just reading this post leaves my head swimming. The thought that we actually were as racist, in many aspects, and potentially may have harbored some anti-Semitic sentiments, compared with our stances currently (post-1948) is staggering. Jewish national identity in light of the Berlin hosting of the Olympic games, or any national identity, for that matter, is vastly intriguing. Here is to hoping you attain your objectives. To be sure, I would contend that perhaps us sending the team we did and the atheletes we did, and then for them to perform as well as they did, was one of the greatest demonstrations against Hitler's ideas of master races and German superiority. Jesse Owens was a role model in my eyes, for the sort of poise members of this land ought to manifest. I remember the picture of him at the starting line, and I think I remember seeing a swatstika in the background somewhere. Appreciate the comments, Frank.

Anonymous said...

This is a wonderful article! I just want to gush about it, and not analyze today! I am proud of the work that you do. I pray for you every day, and hope that the work ethic made Jesse Owens successful, will inspire all Christians to take the high road, stay the path, and finish big! This is great! Love you....
Shari Bellizzi-Davis

bgentle72 said...

I wish those volumes could be scanned and made available online...what some rich resources that need to be made available.

Wes Horn said...

Was a complete set of the Echo ever found and\or scanned?



Frank Bellizzi said...

Hi, Wes.

In my search, I called ACU and spoke with Edward J. Robinson, and also spoke with some people at Southwestern Christian College in Terrell, TX.

Don Haymes gave me the name of someone in southern California. And I called and spoke with that person.

I'm sorry to say that, after all that, I came up with absolutely nothing new. As far as I can tell, the gaps still exist. If you do any tracking and come up with something, please let me know,

Anonymous said...

I am currently teaching a class on restoration history. Can you tell me if The Christian Echo is still published today?

Frank Bellizzi said...


Regarding the Christian Echo, I am virtually certain it is still being published out of Terrell, Texas, edited by James Maxwell. I recently saw a copy that I believe was a current issue. To verify, contact Southwestern Christian College in Terrell. Best wishes for your class.