New e-book with native ties explores civil rights revolution

In the 1960s, Alabama was the epicenter of the civil rights movement. A new book by John Archibald, Pulitzer Prize winner and brother of Murray Archibald, co-founder of CAMP Rehoboth, explores this movement in the voice of her Methodist preacher father, Rev. Robert L. Archibald Jr.

The recently published book Shaking the Gates of Hell: A Quest for Family and Truth in the Wake of the Civil Rights Revolution challenges the Church to silence preachers who believed in equality at a time when those clergy were viewed as one the moral authority of the community. Based on the “Letter from Birmingham Prison” by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. as a point of reference examines the book that the letter was not a call to action for blacks, but for whites who were too cautious and cautious while moving.

Browseabout Book will have a chat with the two brothers on Thursday April 15th.

In a recent interview, Murray said he thought his brother did a fine job weaving the history of the civil rights movement into his family’s history.

“He’s good with words,” said Murray, describing his brother as “Alabama’s editorial voice for years.”

Murray described the book as an affectionate portrait of a man who had to walk the fine line between what the Church wanted of him and what he might have thought was morally right. It was the deep south and a preacher could lose his church if he said the wrong thing, he said.

As part of his research for the book, John read all of the sermons in his father’s archives and added passages from those sermons at the beginning of each chapter. Murray said he was shocked to find out what his father hadn’t said about equality. However, he said there was also an evolution in his thoughts and desire to speak publicly on the matter.

Murray said he believed his father tried to talk about equality issues without angering the powers that be in the church. It’s difficult to get someone out of the time they’re working, he said.

Murray said he and his siblings always viewed their father as a remarkable man teaching them about equality. He always preached about love, Murray said.

The book calls on the Church not to fulfill its mission, Murray said. It’s something the church is currently struggling with regarding LBGTQ rights, he said.

The book isn’t specifically about Murray, but he and his partner Steve Elkins, who passed away in March 2018, are mentioned throughout the book. John wrote the obituary for Elkins and at one point in the book said Steve loved to know that his obituary was written by a Pulitzer Prize winner. With a short laugh, Murray confirmed that this statement was true.

“Steve was John’s biggest fan and he would have loved anything,” said Murray.

Murray said he and his siblings are still around.

“When John won the Pulitzer it was like we won,” said Murray. “We are very proud of each other’s achievements and that comes from our parents.”

The Browseabout Books conversation with the Archibald brothers will take place on Thursday, April 15th at 5:00 p.m. The online event is free, but registration is required. To register, go to and find the event on the site calendar.

For more information on Shaking the Gates of Hell, please visit More information about the event can be found at

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