The Episcopal Society for Cultural and Racial Unity (ESCRU)

Origins of ESCRU


ESCRU Third Annual Meeting

ESCRU Third Annual Meeting held in Washington, D.C., 1963.

In December 1959, approximately one hundred lay and ordained Episcopalians responded to a call for meeting issued by the Reverends John Morris, Neil Tarplee and Arthur Walmsley, to form an organization committed to removing all vestiges of segregation from the life of the Church. The group adopted the name “Episcopal Society for Cultural and Racial Unity” and immediately took issue with the de facto racial segregation that dominated Church life in the South, which included refusing African Americans admission to Church-run institutions and to white worship services.

The group met on the campus of St. Augustine’s College in Raleigh, North Carolina, one of the ACIN colleges. By adopting many of the tactics used by other civil rights protesters, such as peaceful protest and civil disobedience, ESCRU sought to publicize long-standing problems of segregation and to promote racial unity and “harmony among peoples.” ESCRU wanted to awaken the consciousness of all Episcopalians and to call attention to the inequities in Episcopal schools, churches, and institutions. [Sources]