Fit for Freedom, Not for Friendship

Quakers, African Americans, and the Myth of Racial Justice
QuakerPress of FGC



There is a common misconception that, because of their belief in equality, most Quakers assisted fugitive slaves and involved themselves in civil rights activism. While there were Friends committed to ending enslavement and post-enslavement injustices, this study of Quaker history reveals that racism has been as insidious, complex, and pervasive among Friends as it has been generally among people of European descent. The book documents the spiritual and practical impacts of discrimination in the Religious Society of Friends in the expectation that understanding the truth of our past is vital to achieving a diverse, inclusive community in the future.


Illustrations, Preface , Author’s Statements, Acknowledgements

Part One : Enslavement, Emancipation, and Movement West 1680-1900 - 1

Chapter One – Ending Enslavement among Friends: 1688-1787 - 3

Chapter Two – Addressing North American Enslavement: 1800-1860 - 45

Chapter Three – Quakers and Immediate Emancipation - 69

Chapter Four – Friends and Freed People: 1700-1860 - 109

Chapter Five – The Civil War and its Failed Reconstruction - 141

Chapter Six – African American Membership in the Religious Society of Friends - 179

Part Two: Twentieth-Century Challenges and Beyond - 209

Chapter Seven – Working for Desegregation - 211

Chapter Eight – Working for Economic Justice - 261

Chapter Nine – Violence and Nonviolence - 291

Chapter Ten – Integration in Quaker Schools - 319

Chapter Eleven – Towards Integration in the Society of Friends - 361

Epilogue – Toward an Inclusive Community - 389

Notes on Resources , Notes, Glossary, Selected Bibliography, Contributing Historians, Index 


Our Reviews

Chuck Fager

Winston Churchill was once told, regarding another politician, that "Mr. X is a very modest man." "Yes,"Churchill replied, "but then, Mr. X has much to be modest about."

Several times during eight years in North Carolina, I have been introduced as a Quaker to black persons of substance, mostly ministers.

To a person, when they heard "Quaker," their faces have brightened and they said something like, "Oh, the Quakers! They’re wonderful. They were with us when it really counted."

But such praise evokes in me a double reaction. One is the classic panic fear-of-discovery response:

Yes but, goes the voice in my head, would you still feel that way if you knew how much support for segregation there was, even among anti-slavery Friends? And how long segregation lasted in Quaker schools here and elsewhere? And how many Quakers even joined the Klan back in the day? - - -

See the rest of his review here: