Dr. Betty Livingston Adams will present “Black Women's Christian Activism: Seeking Social Justice in a Northern Suburb” at 2 pm on Sunday, March 19, at Connecticut Farms Presbyterian Church, 888 Stuyvesant Avenue, Union. The event will be hosted by the Union Township Historical Society.
Dr. Adams’ talk will be based on her book of the same title. One of the women featured in both is Violet Johnson, a domestic servant, who moved to Summit, in 1897. She was one of less than 100 black residents in a town of 6,000. Summit was then a liberal Protestant community, yet observed some race and class barriers. But Violet didn’t accept the status quo.
She established Fountain Baptist Church in 1898—“a seemingly moderate act” that affected more that religious services. Miss Johnson challenged thinking on gender and race and worked for an equal place for African Americans in the U. S. She was only one of many working-class activists integral to the birth of the civil rights movement.
Dr. Adams said Miss Johnson and her colleagues used their religious convictions to work for social change and helped turn New Jersey’s women’s suffrage movement into a “multiracial, cross-class movement” and started a statewide women’s Republican club.
Dr. Adams holds a Ph.D. in American Studies from Yale University and a Master of Divinity degree from Drew University. She researched 19th- and 20th-Century African American/American religious and social history from gender, race, and class perspectives.
She received a post-doctoral fellowship at Rutgers University and a Ford Foundation Doctoral Fellowship. Dr. Adams was a Global Scholar at the Rutgers Institute for Research on Women and a Fellow at the Rutgers Center for Historical Analysis. She serves as an Associate Minister and on the Board of Drew University’s Theological School Alumni Association.