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Churches and Urban Government in Detroit and New York, 1895-1994

Henry J. Pratt
Preface by Ronald Brown

African American Studies, Detroit, Political Science, Race and Ethnicity, Urban Studies

African American Life Series

Published: February 2004
ISBN: 9780814331729
Pages: 216 Size: 6x9
Published: February 2004
ISBN: 9780814336687

Beginning in the 1890s, the social gospel movement and its secular counterpart, the Progressive movement, set the stage for powerful church and city governance connections. What followed during the next 100 years was the emergence of religious bodies as an important instrument for influencing City Hall on moral and social issues. Churches and Urban Government compares the governing styles of Detroit and New York City from 1895 to 1994 and looks at the steps city-wide religious bodies took to advance the interests of their communities and their local government during this chaotic period in urban history.

Detroit and New York City make for a very interesting case study when casting the two cities’ many similarities against their contrasting urban governance styles. What these cities share is a longstanding liberal political culture and comparable ethnic and racial diversity as well as large populations of Catholics and Protestants. Emphasizing the role of Black churches, Henry J. Pratt—with additional material from Ronald Brown—examines how immigration, the Great Depression, and the Civil Rights movement all nurtured this developing link between religion and politics, helping churches evolve into leadership roles within these metropolitan centers.

Henry J. Pratt (1934–2000) was professor of Political Science at Wayne State University.

There is simply no other work I know of that explores the connections of church federations and urban governance. The book offers new perspectives on urban politics and religion and politics . . . The use of archival material and personal interviews is refreshing and adds significantly to the book.

– Frederick C. Harris, Director, Center for the Study of African-American Politics, University of Rochester

It is important that Pratt's research and insights have been published. Without question, urban and religion historians have much to gain by reading this book."

– American Historical Review

Provides an engaging social and religious history of Detroit and New York and presents a compelling account of similarities and differences. This book will be cited as a standard in the field and will be of interest to students of religion, urban politics, and social history."

– Clyde Wilcox, Department of Government, Georgetown University

This book belongs to a small but growing literature that analyses the role of religious bodies in urban governance in the in US context. The introduction situates the study in he context of historical institutionalist theory and regime theory on the city. Overall, the book does a good job positions urban church institutions in their wider historical context.

– Urban Studies

Churches and Urban Government in Detroit and New York, 1895–1994 by the political scientist Henry Pratt offers important insights into how this relationship changed-at least in these two metropolises-over the course of a turbulent twentieth century. Churches and Urban Government in Detroit and New York, 1895–1994 offers an interesting comparison of two major urban centers and their respective religious and political landscapes. This comparative approach will help Detroit historians and those interested in Michigan history to better understand the distinctive political culture that has shaped the city over the past one hundred years."

– Michigan Historical Review