Before anyone questions the legitimacy of calling Jimmy Baldwin a theologian, acknowledge his contributions to religious thought, artistic portrayals of the Black church ("The Amen Corner," "Go Tell It On The Mountain," etc), and the fact that James H. Cone, the father of Black liberation theology, called Baldwin his muse.
The first African American woman to be ordained in the United Presbyterian Church (1974), Dr. Cannon is considered one the founders of womanist theology. Her many publications include Katie's Canon: Womanism and the Soul of the Black Community. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o8rOCHJFvH4
Considered the father of Black liberation theology, Cone was influenced by Martin Luther King and Malcolm X. His mission, he said, was "to transform self-loathing Negro Christians into black-loving revolutionary disciples of the Black Christ."https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o8rOCHJFvH4
Born into slavery, Cooper earned her Ph.D. from the Sorbonne, is an AKA, and a pre-womanist, known as "The Mother of Black Feminism." Some religious traditions celebrate an "Anna Julia Cooper Feast Day" on their liturgical calendars.
The nation's preeminent Catholic womanist scholar, Dr. Copeland is Professor Emerita of Systematic Theology at Boston College and is known for her work in political theology and theological anthropology. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dM7ACbWidHs
Author of We Have Been Believers: An African American Systematic Theology, Evans was president of the Colgate Rochester Crozer Divinity School from 1990-2000. https://www.crcds.edu/news/posts/remembering-the-life-and-legacy-of-the-reverend-dr-james-h-evans-jr
Dr. Flunder is the Presiding Bishop of The Fellowship of Affirming Ministries, an acclaimed gospel music recording artist, and author of works including Where The Edge Gathers: Building A Community of Radical Inclusion. She represents a new wave of Black liberation theology. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aqFeCq_mwac
The Rev. Dr. Wil Gafney, Ph.D., is a womanist biblical scholar and Professor of the Hebrew Bible at Brite Theological Seminary. She is the author of multiple volumes of Womanist Midrash. https://www.wilgafney.com/
The first Black woman to earn a doctoral degree in systematic theology from Union Theological Seminary, Grant is the author of the landmark book, White Woman's Christ and Black Woman's Jesus. a seminal work of womanist theology. https://www.thehistorymakers.org/biography/reverend-dr-jacquelyn-grant
A former LGBT Studies Research Fellow at Yale, Dr. Greene-Hayes joined the Harvard Divinity School in July 2022. He writes extensively on issues of race, gender, sexuality, and politics. His work has appeared in popular publications such as EBONY and Essence, as well as scholarly journals. https://www.ahmadgreene.com/
Author of Ain't I a Woman?: Black Women and Feminism, bell hooks (born Gloria Jean Watkins) is one of our influential writers. Her explorations of race, sexuality, love, class, gender, and feminism are regularly referenced by a generation of thinkers and theologians.
Check out the bell hooks center at Berea College https://www.berea.edu/bhc/
Author of The Christian Imagination: Theology and the Origins of Race, Dr. Jennings currently teaches at Yale University. His After Whiteness: An Education in Belonging challenges western theological education practices. https://religiousoutreach.byu.edu/willie-james-jennings-lectures-on-race-and-christianity
Dean of Northwestern University's School of Communication, Dr. Johnson co-edited, with Mae E. Henderson, the groundbreaking Black Queer Studies: A Critical Anthology (2005), which featured work by theologians/scholars including Dwight McBride, Roderick Ferguson, and Cathy Cohen. It was followed in 2016 by No Tea, No Shade: New Writings in Queer Black Studies. His Black. Queer. Southern. Women: An Oral History was published in 2018.
The first President of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, an organic theologian, and a Baptist preacher to the bone, King will forever be known for his "Letter from a Birmingham Jail," and the "I Have a Dream" speech delivered at the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial, Washington, DC, August 28, 1963. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GGtp7kCi_LA&t=350s
The Rev. Dr. Pamela Lightsey is the first openly lesbian elder in the United Methodist Church. A professor at Chicago's Meadville Lombard Theological Seminary, she has a storied history as a leading social activist, focused on peacemaking, racial justice and LGBTQ rights. Her 2015 Our Lives Matter: A Womanist Queer Theology explores the impact of oppression against LGBTQ Black women. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b4k8yZ6iBds
Kenyan-born Christian philosopher, theologian, and Anglican priest, Dr. John Samuel Mbiti (1931-2019) is considered "the father of modern African theology." His seminal book, African Religions and Philosophy (1969), laid waste the western Christian assumption that traditional African spiritual beliefs and practices were demonic or anti-Christian.
Director of the Institute of African Women in Religion and Culture at Trinity Theological Seminary in Ghana, Dr. Oduyoye is affectionately known as "the mother of African women's theologies." A poet, activist, educator, Methodist theologian, she has orked tirelessly for decades to address issues of poverty, health care, youth empowerment, women’s rights, destructive cultural and religious practices, and global unrest. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cO6mEiYGUPE
A prolific writer and scholar, Pinn teaches at Rice University, working at the intersections of African American religion, constructive theology, and humanist thought. For Pinn, human liberation is more important than the maintenance of any religious symbols, including God. https://www.anthonypinn.com/
Chair of the Department of Religion at Furman University (Greenville, SC), Sneed is an openly same-gender loving man whose work involves the intersection of Black religious thought and culture, Christian thought and male sexualities, and religious ethics. His publications include Representations of Homosexuality: Black Liberation Theology and Cultural Criticism (2010) and The Dreamer and the Dream: Afrofuturism and Black Religious Thought (2021). https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OXyEE5I4-ic
This author/ philosopher/mystic/ theologian and educator was one of the principal leaders of the modern, nonviolent civil rights movement, and a mentor to Dr. King. The 1923 valedictorian of Morehouse College, and then the 1926 valedictorian of Rochester Theological Seminary, Dr. Thurman would go on to teach at Howard University and Boston College. In 1944, he co-founded the nation's first truly integrated congregation, The Church for the Fellowship of All Peoples.
Dean of Vanderbilt University's Divinity School, where she also teaches womanist ethics, Dr. Townes was the first African American woman to be elected President of the American Academy of Religion. She has also served as President of the Society for the Study of Black Religion. With the late Katie Cannon (see above) and Angela Sims, President of the Colgate Rochester Crozer Divinity School, Dr. Townes edited the 2011 collection, Womanist Theological Ethics: A Reader.
Anglican priest, former Bishop of Johannesburg (1985-1986) and Archbishop of Cape Town (1986-1996), Desmond Mpilo Tutu is known as an anti-apartheid, human rights activist, and LGBTQ ally. He served as Chair of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission and is winner of the Nobel Prize. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YY-ee1hhghQ
Dr. Weems is the first Black woman in the US to earn a doctorate in Old Testament studies. The Hebrew scholar is regularly cited in womanist and feminist writings. Her 1999 Listening for God: A Ministers' Journey Through Silence and Doubt won the prestigious Wilbur Award for "excellence in communicating spiritual values to the secular media."
In 1977, Dr. Williams wrote an article entitled "Womanist Theology: Black Women's Voices," which Dr. Cheryl Kirk-Duggan called "a seminal moment" in theological study. In 1993, Dr. Williams' Sisters in the Wilderness: The Challenge of Womanist God-Talk brought the previously overlooked Hagar to the forefront of theological imaginings and further advanced the field of womanist theology. Retired from the faculty of the Union Theological Seminary, Dr. Williams joined the ancestors in November 2022. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hltJgzbXPFI
Not all Black people of faith are solely Christian and not all are heterosexual.
Early Black liberation theology was largely androcentric.
Artist Jameel Pullin speaks on the power of self-healing.
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