A guide to African-Americans and religion

ReligionLink presents a guide to experts and organizations on African-Americans and religion, from scholars to pastors, from gospel to hip-hop, from civil rights to family issues, from Christianity to Islam.

Background

Houses of worship

Seven historically black-dominated denominations comprise what is known as the “historic black church.” About 55 percent American blacks who go to church belong to one of these, according to a 2009 Pew Forum report. The denominations are:

The Association of Theological Schools in the United States and Canada, which lists six historically black seminaries, posts statistics on enrollment by gender, race and ethnicity at the tables of data on religious schools. The seminaries are:

Statistics and demographics

  • “SDA: Survey Documentation and Analysis”

    Survey Documentation and Analysis (using data from the General Social Surveys from 1972-2004) shows that 75.7 percent of blacks are Protestant, 6.5 percent are Catholic, 0.2 percent are Jewish, 7 percent are “Other” and 10.6 percent do not identify with a religious group.

  • “A Decade of Change in American Congregations 2000 to 2010”

    The Faith Communities Today (FACT) surveys by the Hartford Institute for Religion Research and the Cooperative Congregations Studies Partnership include statistics on historically black denominations.

  • National Study of Youth and Religion

    See summaries of research findings from the National Study of Youth and Religion, funded by the Lilly Endowment and based at the University of North Carolina. From July 2002 to March 2003, the researchers conducted a random nationwide telephone survey of 3,370 teenagers ages 13 to 17 and their parents, and followed that up with 267 in-depth interviews with teenagers in 45 states. Among the findings: Teenagers seemed remarkably conventional in their religious views, and there wasn’t much evidence of “spiritual seeking” or exploration. But even teenagers who considered religion important were not very articulate in talking about their faith – they have a hard time explaining what they believe.

  • “Religious Groups React to the 2006 Election”

    The Pew Research Center surveyed religious groups about their reactions to the 2006 elections, about religious mobilization in congregations and about attitudes toward 2008 presidential candidates. Data is presented for black Protestants.

  • “The Public Influences of African-American Churches: Contexts and Capacities”

    The Public Influences of African-American Churches Project conducted focus groups and surveyed black congregations and church leaders over three years to learn about congregational involvement in elections and setting public policy since the civil rights era. Despite the existence of 8,000 black elected officials and dozens of black civic and lobbying organizations, the survey found that black churches aren’t much involved in monitoring public policy or political issues after elections. Poll data is included on attitudes and activism on affirmative action, school vouchers, welfare reform, health care, criminal justice, education and American foreign policy in Africa.

  • “Faith Communities and Urban Families Project”

    Faith Communities and Urban Families Project published a 2003 research project conducted by the Morehouse College Leadership Center among residents of low-income housing projects and congregations in Indianapolis, Denver, Camden and Hartford.

  • Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies

    The Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies is a national, nonprofit think tank that conducts research on public policy issues concerning African-Americans and offers training and technical assistance to newly elected black officials.

    The center published a Sept. 19, 2006, survey of 750 black churches and their involvement with the White House’s Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives. Just 2.4 percent received FBCI grants — 47 percent of them in the Northeast, and 26 percent in the South. The center says that the survey did not support fears that politicians had used the grants as political patronage. More “blue” states got grants than “red” states.

    Contact: 202-789-3500.
  • Association of Theological Schools in the United States and Canada

    The Association of Theological Schools in the United States and Canada is a membership organization of more than 250 graduate schools in the U.S. and Canada. The organization conducts professional and academic degree programs on the practice of ministry for teaching and research in the theological discipline.

    The website lists six historically black seminaries and posts statistics on enrollment by gender, race and ethnicity at the (.PDF) tables of data on religious schools.

History

National sources

Ten top scholars

  • James H. Cone

    James H. Cone, Charles A. Briggs Distinguished Professor of systematic theology at Union Theological Seminary in New York, is the author of Risks of Faith: The Emergence of a Black Theology of Liberation, 1968-1998. He is widely considered to be one of the founders of black liberation theology, which frames Christianity as a means out of oppression.

  • Cheryl Townsend Gilkes

    Cheryl Townsend Gilkes is a professor of sociology and African-American studies at Colby College in Waterville, Maine. She is an expert on black churches. She has written widely, including If It Wasn’t for the Women: Black Women’s Experience and Womanist Culture in Church and Community (Orbis Books, 2000).

  • Frederick C. Harris

    Fredrick C. Harris is a political science professor at Columbia University in New York, where he directs the Institute for Research in African-American Studies and the Center on African-American Politics and Society. Among the books he has written are Something Within: Religion in African-American Political Activism and (with R. Drew Smith) Black Churches and Local Politics: Clergy Influence, Organizational Partnerships, and Civic Empowerment.

  • Anthony B. Pinn

    Anthony B. Pinn is a professor of humanities and religious studies at Rice University in Houston. He has been critical of the prosperity gospel preached in some black megachurches for its lack of emphasis on community service and charity. He is the author of Why, Lord?: Suffering and Evil in Black Theology and editor of Redemptive Suffering: a History of Theodicy in African-American Religious Thought. He also studies African-American religious humanism and is the author of African American Humanist Principles: Living and Thinking Like the Children of Nimrod (2004) and By These Hands: A Documentary History of African American Humanism (2001).

  • R. Drew Smith

    R. Drew Smith is a Baptist minister and professor of urban ministry at Pittsburgh Theological Seminary. He has studied and written about black megachurches and has edited four volumes on American religion and public life, including New Day Begun: African American Churches and Civic Culture in Post-Civil Rights America.

  • Katie Geneva Cannon

    Katie Geneva Cannon is president of the Society for the Study of Black Religion. She was the first black woman ordained in the United Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), and she is Annie Scales Rogers Professor of Christian Ethics at Union Theological Seminary and Presbyterian School of Christian Education in Richmond, Va. Her areas of expertise are womanist theology, women in society and religion and Christian ethics. She wrote the book of essays Katie’s Canon: Womanism and the Soul of the Black Community and Black Womanist Ethics (Continuum International, 1997).

  • Robert M. Franklin

    Robert M. Franklin was tenth president of Morehouse College in Atlanta. He was ordained in the Church of God in Christ and worships in several different traditions. He has previously been president of the Interdenominational Theological Center, directed black church studies at Candler School of Theology and has been the Ford Foundation’s program officer, directing grants to African-American churches delivering secular social services. He is a frequent commentator and radio and TV guest. Among the books he has written are Crisis in the Village: Restoring Hope to African American Communities (Fortress, February 2007) and Another Day’s Journey: Black Churches Confronting the American Crisis (Fortress, 1997).

  • Cornel West

    Cornel West is the Princeton University Class of 1943 University Professor of Religion. His interests include philosophy of religion and cultural criticism. Among his many books are Race Matters and Democracy Matters. Among courses he teaches is “The Religious Dimensions of Du Bois, Baldwin and Morrison.”

  • Jacquelyn Grant

    Jacquelyn Grant is Callaway Professor of Systematic Theology at the Interdenominational Theological Center in Atlanta, where she founded and directs the Center for Black Women in Church and Society. She wrote White Women’s Christ and Black Women’s Jesus: Feminist Christology and Womanist Response (American Academy of Religion, 1988). She is also assistant minister at Victory African Methodist Episcopal Church in Atlanta.

Prominent clergy

  • Kirbyjon Caldwell

    Kirbyjon Caldwell is senior pastor of Windsor Village United Methodist Church in Houston. He is the co-author of Entrepreneurial Faith: Launching Bold Initiatives to Expand God’s Kingdom (WaterBrook Press, 2004) and author of The Gospel of Good Success: A Road Map to Spiritual, Emotional and Financial Wholeness (Fireside, 2000). He was a spiritual adviser to President George W. Bush.

  • Creflo Dollar

    Creflo Dollar is the founder and president of Creflo Dollar Ministries and pastor of World Changers Church International in College Park, Ga., which claims 25,000 members. His television show, Changing Your World, reaches 1 billion people, according to the WCCI website.

    Contact: 770-210-5700.
  • T.D. Jakes

    T.D. Jakes is the leader of the Potter’s House, a 30,000 member Pentecostal church in Dallas. He is a nationally known pastor and author.

    Contact: 1-800-BISHOP2.
  • Jeremiah A. Wright Jr.

    Jeremiah A. Wright Jr. is pastor emeritus of Trinity United Church of Christ, a predominantly African-American megachurch in Chicago. He participated in a conference of African-American pastors concerned with the effect of prosperity gospel in their churches. Trinity’s mission statement includes a “disavowal of the pursuit of middleclassness” and commitment to work toward economic parity.

  • Al Sharpton

    The Rev. Al Sharpton was a child preacher and was ordained as a minister at age 10. He has been organizing for social justice causes since he was a teenager and has run for U.S. Senate, for mayor of New York and for president of the U.S. He is host of The Al Sharpton Show, a radio talk show. Sharpton, once entertainer James Brown’s road manager, is known to many as a leader, to others as a divisive critic and to all as a power broker. He wrote Go & Tell the Pharaoh: The Autobiography of Reverend Al Sharpton. Contact him through Rachel Nordlinger.

  • Vashti M. McKenzie

    Vashti (pronounced “Vasht-eye”) M. McKenzie is bishop of the 13th Episcopal District of the African Methodist Episcopal Church, the first woman bishop in the denomination. Formerly a journalist and radio broadcaster, she wrote Not Without a Struggle: Leadership Development for African American Women in Ministry (Pilgrim Press, 1996) and Strength in the Struggle: Leadership Development for Women (Pilgrim Press, 2002).

  • Louis Farrakhan

    Louis Farrakhan leads the Nation of Islam, based in Chicago. In September 2006 he handed over daily leadership of the Nation of Islam to its executive committee. Under his leadership, the Nation of Islam, founded in 1930 to address the spiritual, economic and social needs of African-Americans and criticized as separatist and anti-Christian, has become more mainstream. Farrakhan led the Million Man March in Washington, D.C., in 1995 and founded The Final Call newspaper.

  • Wilton Gregory

    The Most Rev. Wilton Gregory is Roman Catholic archbishop of Atlanta. He served as president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops from 2001 to 2004. During his term the bishops developed new policies on clergy sexual abuse. He also has written about the death penalty, physician-assisted suicide and African-American liturgy.

  • Suzan Johnson Cook

    The Rev. Suzan Johnson Cook was appointed by President Barack Obama Ambassador at Large for International Religious Freedom, a position confirmed by the United States Senate. She was outgoing president of the Hampton University Ministers’ Conference, one of the largest annual gatherings of black clergy in the country, and a former White House Fellow. She is also senior pastor at the Bronx Christian Fellowship.

  • Otis Moss III

    Otis Moss III is pastor of Trinity United Church of Christ in Chicago, which is led by Senior Pastor Jeremiah A. Wright Jr. Moss is known for his ability to speak to young people, extensive theological education and preaching. A poet, he wrote Redemption in a Red Light District: Messages of Hope, Healing, and Empowerment (FOUR-G Publishers, 2000).

    Contact: 773-962-5650.
  • Jesse Jackson

    The Rev. Jesse Jackson is founder and president of the Rainbow/PUSH Coalition, the Chicago organization that works on issues involving economic development and economic justice, health care, voter registration, jobs and peace.

  • Barbara Harris

    Barbara Harris is a retired Episcopal bishop. Harris was the first female bishop in the Anglican Communion. She is past president of the Episcopal Urban Caucus and has worked on prisoner issues and in other organizations serving the urban poor. She currently is assisting Bishop John B. Chane in the Diocese of Washington, D.C. Contact her through assistant Cheryl Wilburn.

  • Renita J. Weems

    The Rev. Renita J.Weems is associate professor of Hebrew Bible at Vanderbilt University Divinity School in Nashville and an ordained elder in the African Methodist Episcopal Church who has written extensively on family life, particularly women’s, in books, articles and newsletters.

    Contact: 615-343-3987.
  • Floyd Flake

    The Rev. Floyd Flake is the senior pastor of Greater Allen AME Cathedral of New York in Jamaica, Queens, which has more than 18,000 members and extensive commercial and residential developments. He was a U.S. congressman for 11 years. He is also president of Wilberforce University in Ohio.

    Contact: 718-206-4600.
  • William H. Gray III

    The Rev. William H. Gray III is pastor of Bright Hope Baptist Church in Philadelphia. He was formerly a former U.S. congressman and president of the United Negro College Fund.

    Contact: 215-232-6004.
  • James Forbes Jr.

    The Rev. James Forbes Jr. is senior minister emeritus at Riverside Church in New York City.

    Contact: 212-870-6700.

Experts by topic

Congregations and outreach

  • R. Drew Smith

    R. Drew Smith is a Baptist minister and professor of urban ministry at Pittsburgh Theological Seminary. He has studied and written about black megachurches and has edited four volumes on American religion and public life, including New Day Begun: African American Churches and Civic Culture in Post-Civil Rights America.

  • Cheryl J. Sanders

    Cheryl J. Sanders is professor of Christian ethics at Howard University School of Divinity and senior pastor of the Third Street Church of God in Washington, D.C. She has written extensively on race and culture and on the holiness-Pentecostal experience in African-American religion and culture. She can discuss the tradition of community work among black churches.

  • Anthony B. Pinn

    Anthony B. Pinn is a professor of humanities and religious studies at Rice University in Houston. He has been critical of the prosperity gospel preached in some black megachurches for its lack of emphasis on community service and charity. He is the author of Why, Lord?: Suffering and Evil in Black Theology and editor of Redemptive Suffering: a History of Theodicy in African-American Religious Thought. He also studies African-American religious humanism and is the author of African American Humanist Principles: Living and Thinking Like the Children of Nimrod (2004) and By These Hands: A Documentary History of African American Humanism (2001).

  • Michael Leo Owens

    Michael Leo Owens is an associate professor of political science at Emory University in Atlanta, Ga. specializing in urban politics; state and local politics; political penology; governance and public policy processes; religion and politics; and African American politics. He is the author of the 2007 book God and Government in the Ghetto: The Politics of Church-State Collaboration in Black America and numerous articles and essays on faith-based community development and political mobilization by congregations in the United States.

  • Robert M. Franklin

    Robert M. Franklin was tenth president of Morehouse College in Atlanta. He was ordained in the Church of God in Christ and worships in several different traditions. He has previously been president of the Interdenominational Theological Center, directed black church studies at Candler School of Theology and has been the Ford Foundation’s program officer, directing grants to African-American churches delivering secular social services. He is a frequent commentator and radio and TV guest. Among the books he has written are Crisis in the Village: Restoring Hope to African American Communities (Fortress, February 2007) and Another Day’s Journey: Black Churches Confronting the American Crisis (Fortress, 1997).

  • Harold Dean Trulear

    Harold Dean Trulear, senior pastor of Mount Pleasant Baptist Church in Twin Oaks, Pa., is an expert on religion and social policy. He is associate professor of religious education at Howard University and is ordained in both the Progressive National Baptist Convention and American Baptist Churches in the USA.

  • Stephen C. Rasor

    Stephen C. Rasor wrote (with Christine D. Chapman) Black Power from the Pew: Laity Connecting Congregations and Communities (Pilgrim, 2007). Rasor is a professor of sociology of religion at the Interdenominational Theological Center, where he directs the doctor of ministry program.

  • Christine D. Chapman

    Christine D. Chapman wrote (with Stephen C. Rasor) Black Power From the Pew: Laity Connecting Congregations and Communities (Pilgrim, 2007). She is an adjunct professor at Georgia State University and at the Interdenominational Theological Center.

    Contact: 404-527-7700.
  • Calvin O. Butts III

    The Rev. Calvin O. Butts III is head pastor of the Abyssinian Baptist Church in Harlem, N.Y. Butts chairs the National Black Leadership Commission on AIDS.

    Contact: 212-862-7474.
  • Christian Methodist Episcopal Church

    The Christian Methodist Episcopal Church is a branch of Wesleyan Methodism. It is composed primarily of African Americans. Paul A.G. Stewart is senior bishop at the church’s headquarters in St. Louis, Mo.

Family issues

History and civil rights

  • Albert J. Raboteau

    Albert J. Raboteau specializes in African-American religious history at Princeton University.

  • Laurie Maffly-Kipp

    Laurie Maffly-Kipp is an associate professor of religious studies at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. She edited the Penguin Classics edition American Scriptures and can talk about the role of the King James Bible in American religious history.

  • Frederick C. Harris

    Fredrick C. Harris is a political science professor at Columbia University in New York, where he directs the Institute for Research in African-American Studies and the Center on African-American Politics and Society. Among the books he has written are Something Within: Religion in African-American Political Activism and (with R. Drew Smith) Black Churches and Local Politics: Clergy Influence, Organizational Partnerships, and Civic Empowerment.

  • Eddie Glaude Jr.

    Eddie Glaude Jr. is a professor of religion and African-American studies at Princeton University in Princeton, N.J. He specializes in African-American religious history and is the editor of Is It Nation Time? Contemporary Essays on Black Power and Black Nationalism.

  • David Chappell

    David Chappell is associate professor of history at the University of Arkansas and a historian of the American South, the civil rights movement and race relations in the United States. He is the author of A Stone of Hope: Prophetic Religion and the Death of Jim Crow (University of North Carolina, 2004).

  • Rosetta E. Ross

    Rosetta E. Ross is an associate professor of religion and chairs the department of philosophy and religious studies at Spelman College in Atlanta. An elder in the United Methodist Church, she writes and lectures widely about African-American religion and is treasurer of the Society for the Study of Black Religion. She is an expert on women in the civil rights movement, and she wrote Witnessing and Testifying: Black Women, Religion, and Civil Rights (Augsburg Fortress, 2003).

  • Milton C. Sernett

    Milton C. Sernett is a history professor in the African-American studies department of Syracuse University. He wrote Bound for the Promised Land: African American Religion and the Great Migration (Duke University Press, 1997) and has co-chaired the American Academy of Religion’s African American Religious History Group. He has retired from teaching.

  • Vincent Wimbush

    Vincent Wimbush is a religion professor at Claremont Graduate University. He also directs the Institute for Signifying Scriptures in Claremont, Calif. His three-year “African Americans and the Bible” research project was funded by the Ford Foundation and the Lilly Endowment.

  • Quinton Hosford Dixie

    Quinton Hosford Dixie advised the makers of the PBS series “This Far by Faith” and, with Juan Williams, co-wrote the book of the same title. He also edited (with Cornel West) The Courage to Hope: From Black Suffering to Human Redemption (Beacon Press, 1999). Dixie teaches in the philosophy department of Indiana University-Purdue University, Fort Wayne. He also has expertise in civil rights, and the spirituality of hip-hop.

  • Clayborne Carson

    Clayborne Carson is a Stanford University history professor and founding director of the Martin Luther King Jr. Research and Education Institute. He is an expert on the interface between faith and social justice.

  • Aldon D. Morris

    Aldon D. Morris is a professor of sociology and African-American studies at Northwestern University in Evanston, Ill. His classic book The Origins of the Civil Rights Movement: Black Communities Organizing for Change (Free Press, 1986) examines black church organization and influence on the civil rights movement.

  • Mary R. Sawyer

    Mary R. Sawyer was a professor of religious studies at Iowa State University in Ames. She wrote the entry “National Conference of Black Christians” for the Encyclopedia of African and African-American Religions (Routledge, 2001). She has written about women’s leadership roles in the black church.

International issues

  • Claudette Anderson Copeland

    Evangelical speaker and minister Claudette Anderson Copeland founded New Creation Christian Fellowship and Destiny Ministries for women. She wrote Stories From Inner Space: Confessions of a Preacher Woman and Other Tales (Red Nail Press, 2003) and Coming Through the Darkness: Cancer and One Woman’s Journey to Wholeness (Destiny Press, 2000). Contact her through executive director Destiny Ministries.

  • Eugene F. Rivers

    Eugene F. Rivers is pastor of Pentecostal Azusa Christian Community (affiliated with the Church of God in Christ) in south Boston and president of Ella J. Baker House community organization in the Dorchester Four Corners neighborhood of Boston. Rivers co-founded the clergy-led National Ten Point Leadership Foundation, which is credited with helping to diminish gang violence in Boston and other urban areas. He is also general secretary of the Pan African Charismatic Evangelical Congress, through which African-American churches help African churches with AIDS projects and through which they lobby to affect U.S. foreign policy. Rivers has worked with the White House on faith-based projects.

    Contact: 617-282-6704, 617-524-4331.

Music

  • Milmon F. Harrison

    Milmon F. Harrison is the author of Righteous Riches: The Word of Faith Movement in Contemporary African American Religion (Oxford University Press, 2005). He is an associate professor of African-American and African studies at the University of California, Davis.

  • Quinton Hosford Dixie

    Quinton Hosford Dixie advised the makers of the PBS series “This Far by Faith” and, with Juan Williams, co-wrote the book of the same title. He also edited (with Cornel West) The Courage to Hope: From Black Suffering to Human Redemption (Beacon Press, 1999). Dixie teaches in the philosophy department of Indiana University-Purdue University, Fort Wayne. He also has expertise in civil rights, and the spirituality of hip-hop.

  • Mark Anthony Neal

    Mark Anthony Neal is associate professor of black popular culture in the Program in African and African-American Studies at Duke University. He wrote What the Music Said: Black Popular Music and Black Public Culture (1998), Soul Babies: Black Popular Culture and the Post-Soul Aesthetic (2002), and Songs in the Key of Black Life: A Rhythm and Blues Nation (2003).

  • Rudolph McKissick Jr.

    Rudolph McKissick Jr. is co-senior pastor at the 9,000-member Bethel Baptist Institutional Church in Jacksonville, Fla. He is a national leader in contemporary sacred music and developed a professional-quality national recording choir at his church. He is an expert in sacred music and opera.

  • Leo Davis Jr.

    Leo Davis Jr. is artistic director at Gia Publications, Inc. in Chicago, Ill. Davis has a scholarly background in black church worship and can discuss contemporary influences and trends in church music.

    Contact: 800-442-1358, 708-496-3800.
  • Melva Wilson Costen

    Melva Wilson Costen is an authority on music and worship in the black church. She wrote the widely consulted African American Christian Worship (Abingdon Press, 1993) and In Spirit and In Truth: The Music of African American Worship (Westminster, 2004). She recently retired from the Interdenominational Theological Center in Atlanta, where she was Helmar Emil Nielsen Professor of Music and Worship.

  • Mellonee V. Burnim

    Mellonee V. Burnim is an associate professor of folklore and ethnomusicology at Indiana University-Bloomington. Her focus is black religious music and aesthetics and music of the African Diaspora.

  • Wallace D. Best

    Wallace D. Best is professor of religion and African-American studies at Princeton University. He has written about storefront churches and other topics concerning black Americans and religion, and he teaches a course titled “The African-American Sacred Music Tradition.”

  • James Abbington

    James Abbington is associate professor of music and worship at Emory University’s Candler School of Theology in Atlanta. He wrote Let Mt. Zion Rejoice! Music in the African American Church (Judson Press, 2001).

Politics

  • Cornel West

    Cornel West is the Princeton University Class of 1943 University Professor of Religion. His interests include philosophy of religion and cultural criticism. Among his many books are Race Matters and Democracy Matters. Among courses he teaches is “The Religious Dimensions of Du Bois, Baldwin and Morrison.”

  • Michael Leo Owens

    Michael Leo Owens is an associate professor of political science at Emory University in Atlanta, Ga. specializing in urban politics; state and local politics; political penology; governance and public policy processes; religion and politics; and African American politics. He is the author of the 2007 book God and Government in the Ghetto: The Politics of Church-State Collaboration in Black America and numerous articles and essays on faith-based community development and political mobilization by congregations in the United States.

  • Frederick C. Harris

    Fredrick C. Harris is a political science professor at Columbia University in New York, where he directs the Institute for Research in African-American Studies and the Center on African-American Politics and Society. Among the books he has written are Something Within: Religion in African-American Political Activism and (with R. Drew Smith) Black Churches and Local Politics: Clergy Influence, Organizational Partnerships, and Civic Empowerment.

  • Allison Calhoun-Brown

    Allison Calhoun-Brown is associate professor of political science at Georgia State University. She specializes in religion and politics and African-American politics.

  • David A. Bositis

    David A. Bositis is a senior research associate at the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies, a think tank in Washington, D.C., that focuses on public policy issues of concern to African-Americans. He runs the center’s National Opinion Poll, which samples African-Americans as well as the general population. He is a source for statistics on African-Americans, churches and politics.

  • Melissa Harris-Lacewell

    Melissa Harris-Lacewell is the Maya Angelou presidential chair at Wake Forest University. There she is the executive director of the Pro Humanitate Institute and founding director of the Anna Julia Cooper Center. She is the author of Barbershops, Bibles, and BET: Everyday Talk and Black Political Thought (Princeton 2004).

Researchers

  • Michael O. Emerson

    Michael O. Emerson is co-director of the Kinder Institute for Urban Research and is a sociology professor at Rice University in Houston. He has written several books on race and religion, including People of the Dream: Multiracial Congregations in the United States and Divided by Faith: Evangelical Religion and the Problem of Race in America. He is also the co-author of Passing the Plate: Why American Christians Don’t Give Away More Money (2008).

  • David A. Bositis

    David A. Bositis is a senior research associate at the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies, a think tank in Washington, D.C., that focuses on public policy issues of concern to African-Americans. He runs the center’s National Opinion Poll, which samples African-Americans as well as the general population. He is a source for statistics on African-Americans, churches and politics.

  • Michael I.N. Dash

    Michael I.N. Dash is professor of ministry and context at the Interdenominational Theological Center. He co-directed the ITC/Faith Factor Project 2000 study, which focused on African-American congregations and is part of Hartford Seminary’s Faith Communities Today project.

  • Mark A. Chaves

    Mark A. Chaves is professor of sociology, religion and divinity at Duke University in Durham, N.C. He is an expert on religion in American politics and wrote the books Religious Congregations and Welfare Reform: Who Will Take Advantage of Charitable Choice? (The Aspen Institute, 1999) and Congregations in America (Harvard University Press, 2004). He says Americans want their religious leaders to be less involved in politics.

    His 1998 National Congregations Study sampled 1,236 congregations.

    • R. Drew Smith

      R. Drew Smith is a Baptist minister and professor of urban ministry at Pittsburgh Theological Seminary. He has studied and written about black megachurches and has edited four volumes on American religion and public life, including New Day Begun: African American Churches and Civic Culture in Post-Civil Rights America.

      Smith directed the Public Influences of African-American Churches Project, which surveyed some 1,900 ministers nationally.

    Social issues

    • Theodore Walker Jr.

      Theodore Walker Jr. is associate professor of ethics and society at the Perkins School of Theology at Southern Methodist University in Dallas. He wrote the book Empower the People: Social Ethics for the African-American Church, about African-American resources for a more inclusive liberation theology.

       

    • Byron L. Sherwin

      Byron L. Sherwin is a professor of Jewish studies at the Spertus Institute of Jewish Studies in Chicago. He is a renowned Jewish theologian, ethicist, scholar of Jewish philosophy and mysticism.

    • Horace L. Griffin

      Horace L. Griffin is an associate professor of pastoral theology at Pacific School of Religion in Berkeley, Calif. He has written several scholarly articles on theology and homosexuality.

    • Frederick Denny

      Frederick Denny is professor emeritus  at the University of Colorado, Boulder, and he has a background in Islamic studies and the history of religions.

    • Ihsan Bagby

      Ihsan Bagby is an associate professor of Islamic studies at the University of Kentucky and an expert in Islam and its history and practice in North America. He is one of the authors of the research report “The American Mosque 2011.”

    • Felicia Dix-Richardson

      Felicia Dix-Richardson is assistant professor of sociology and criminal justice at Florida A&M University in Tallahassee. She has studied religious conversion in prisons, particularly among African-American women, and is expert on the topics of race, religion and inmate culture.

      Contact: 850-599-3316.
    • Leah Gaskin Fitchue

      Leah Gaskin Fitchue, the first woman to be president of a historically black theological seminary, heads the 160-year-old Payne Theological Seminary in Wilberforce, Ohio. The school is affiliated with the African Methodist Episcopal Church. Previously, Fitchue was a consultant in leadership development and organizational and community transformation for church and faith-based organizations. She is also the first African-American woman president of the Association of Theological Schools. She belongs to the Christian Community Development Association and the Association of Urban Theological Education & Ministry and is a regent of Northwest Graduate School of the Ministry and International Urban Associates. She is an ordained Itinerant Elder in the AME Church.

      Contact: 937-376-2946.
    • Jeffrey McCune Jr.

      Jeffrey McCune Jr. is an associate professor of women, gender, and sexuality studies, as well as african and african american studies, at Washington University in St. Louis, Mo. He was a postdoctoral fellow at the Frederick Douglass Institute for African and African-American Studies at the University of Rochester in New York. He teaches about black masculinity, black sexual politics, women’s studies and LGBT studies.

    • Robert L. Woodson Sr.

      Robert L. Woodson Sr. is founder and president of the Center for Neighborhood Enterprise (formerly the National Center for Neighborhood Enterprise) in Washington, D.C., which trains and supports community and faith-based programs. Woodson emphasizes self-help, market-oriented solutions to social problems. He is a John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Fellowship “genius award” recipient and wrote The Triumphs of Joseph: How Community Healers are Reviving Our Streets and Neighborhoods (Free Press, 1998).

      Contact: 202-518-6500.
    • William Julius Wilson

      William Julius Wilson is Lewis P. and Linda L. Geyser University Professor at Harvard University. A MacArthur Prize Fellow from 1987 to 1992 and former president of the American Sociological Association, Wilson has said that he looks, in addition to government, to religious organizations to reduce social problems in neighborhoods and to rebuild inner cities. He is known for classics such as The Declining Significance of Race: Blacks and Changing American Institutions (University Of Chicago Press, 1980) and When Work Disappears: The World of the New Urban Poor (Vintage, 1997). His expertise is in the areas of civil rights, the inner city, poverty, race, social policy and urban policy.

    • Antonio Tillis

      Antonio Tillis is associate professor and chair of African American studies at Dartmouth University. He can discuss cultural, economic, political and social influences on black men in the U.S., including personal relationships, sexuality, self-definition, criminal justice and media representations.

    • Stephen G. Ray

      Stephen G. Ray is the Neal F. and Ila A. Fisher Professor of Theology at Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary, where he directs the seminary’s Urban Theological Institute. He is also an ordained minister of the United Church of Christ

    • Alice M. Graham

      Alice M. Graham is professor of pastoral care and counseling at Hood Theological Seminary in Salisbury, N.C. She is an ordained minister in the American Baptist denomination. Among her interests is the subject of the psychological and emotional issues facing inmates released from prison. She teaches a seminar for inmates in a transitional program at North Carolina Department of Corrections’ Piedmont Correctional Institute in Salisbury.

      Contact: 704-636-7611.
    • Brenda Girton-Mitchell

      Brenda Girton-Mitchell is director of the Department’s Center for Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships. She is also chaplain to the National Bar Association and is a deacon trustee at the Metropolitan Baptist Church in Washington, D.C. She can discuss the NCC’s work on social issues, including marriage, single-parenthood and families. Contact 202-544-2350.

      Contact: 202-544-2350.
    • Debra Y. Fraser-Howze

      Debra Y. Fraser-Howze is president and CEO of the National Black Leadership Commission on AIDS. Her professional career has been spent delivering social services to African-American communities.

      Contact: 212-614-0023.
    • Ronald B. Mincy

      Ronald B. Mincy is Maurice V. Russell Professor of Social Policy and Social Work Practice at Columbia University School of Social Work in New York. His work focuses on public policy, family, race, the role of men in poverty and the relationship between marriage and poverty. He coined the term “fragile families.” Mincy says that a third of all American children, and 70 percent of African-Americans, are born outside marriage.

      Mincy says that a third of all American children, and 70 percent of African-Americans, are born outside marriage.

    Women's issues

    • Katie Geneva Cannon

      Katie Geneva Cannon is president of the Society for the Study of Black Religion. She was the first black woman ordained in the United Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), and she is Annie Scales Rogers Professor of Christian Ethics at Union Theological Seminary and Presbyterian School of Christian Education in Richmond, Va. Her areas of expertise are womanist theology, women in society and religion and Christian ethics. She wrote the book of essays Katie’s Canon: Womanism and the Soul of the Black Community and Black Womanist Ethics (Continuum International, 1997).

    • Cheryl Townsend Gilkes

      Cheryl Townsend Gilkes is a professor of sociology and African-American studies at Colby College in Waterville, Maine. She is an expert on black churches. She has written widely, including If It Wasn’t for the Women: Black Women’s Experience and Womanist Culture in Church and Community (Orbis Books, 2000).

    • Jacquelyn Grant

      Jacquelyn Grant is Callaway Professor of Systematic Theology at the Interdenominational Theological Center in Atlanta, where she founded and directs the Center for Black Women in Church and Society. She wrote White Women’s Christ and Black Women’s Jesus: Feminist Christology and Womanist Response (American Academy of Religion, 1988). She is also assistant minister at Victory African Methodist Episcopal Church in Atlanta.

    • Cheryl Kirk-Duggan

      Cheryl Kirk-Duggan is a professor of theology and women’s studies at the Shaw University Divinity School in Raleigh, N.C. She can discuss the current celebration of Kwanzaa in black communities and congregations in the South.

    • Karen Baker-Fletcher

      Karen Baker-Fletcher is a professor of systematic theology at Southern Methodist University’s Perkins School of Theology. She specializes in womanist theology and is the co-author of My Sister, My Brother: Womanist and Xodus God-Talk. Baker-Fletcher’s research interests also include ecology, and in 2007 the environmental magazine Grist named her as one of 15 top religious leaders on green issues.

    Christianity: Baptists

    • R. Drew Smith

      R. Drew Smith is a Baptist minister and professor of urban ministry at Pittsburgh Theological Seminary. He has studied and written about black megachurches and has edited four volumes on American religion and public life, including New Day Begun: African American Churches and Civic Culture in Post-Civil Rights America.

    • William H. Gray III

      The Rev. William H. Gray III is pastor of Bright Hope Baptist Church in Philadelphia. He was formerly a former U.S. congressman and president of the United Negro College Fund.

      Contact: 215-232-6004.
    • Suzan Johnson Cook

      The Rev. Suzan Johnson Cook was appointed by President Barack Obama Ambassador at Large for International Religious Freedom, a position confirmed by the United States Senate. She was outgoing president of the Hampton University Ministers’ Conference, one of the largest annual gatherings of black clergy in the country, and a former White House Fellow. She is also senior pastor at the Bronx Christian Fellowship.

    • William C. Turner Jr.

      William C. Turner Jr., associate professor of the practice of homiletics at Duke University Divinity School, is an expert in pneumatology (spirits as intermediaries between God and people) and the tradition of spirituality and preaching in the black church. He has written on the “musicality of black preaching” and black evangelism. He is also pastor of Mount Level Baptist Church in Durham.

    • Paul S. Morton

      Paul S. Morton is founder and international presiding bishop of the New Orleans-based Full Gospel Baptist Church Fellowship, International and pastor of Greater St. Stephen Full Gospel Baptist Church, with locations in New Orleans and Decatur, Ga. Begun in 1992, the Episcopal-style fellowship includes mostly African-American Baptist congregations and individuals who emphasize spiritual gifts, including speaking in tongues and prophesy. Contact Morton through executive assistant Jan D. Breaux.

    • William H. Curtis

      William H. Curtis is president of the Hampton University Ministers’ Conference, the oldest nondenominational African-American ministers conference in the country. He is senior pastor of 7,500-member Mount Ararat Baptist Church in Pittsburgh, Pa.

      Contact: 412-441-1800.
    • Denis W. Wiley

      The Rev. Denis W. Wiley is an ordained minister in the Progressive National Baptist Convention. He is an adjunct professor of theology at Howard University’s School of Divinity.

    Christianity: Pentecostalists

    • T.D. Jakes

      T.D. Jakes is the leader of the Potter’s House, a 30,000 member Pentecostal church in Dallas. He is a nationally known pastor and author.

      Contact: 1-800-BISHOP2.
    • Cheryl J. Sanders

      Cheryl J. Sanders is professor of Christian ethics at Howard University School of Divinity and senior pastor of the Third Street Church of God in Washington, D.C. She has written extensively on race and culture and on the holiness-Pentecostal experience in African-American religion and culture. She can discuss the tradition of community work among black churches.

    • Eugene F. Rivers

      Eugene F. Rivers is pastor of Pentecostal Azusa Christian Community (affiliated with the Church of God in Christ) in south Boston and president of Ella J. Baker House community organization in the Dorchester Four Corners neighborhood of Boston. Rivers co-founded the clergy-led National Ten Point Leadership Foundation, which is credited with helping to diminish gang violence in Boston and other urban areas. He is also general secretary of the Pan African Charismatic Evangelical Congress, through which African-American churches help African churches with AIDS projects and through which they lobby to affect U.S. foreign policy. Rivers has worked with the White House on faith-based projects.

      Contact: 617-282-6704, 617-524-4331.
    • Frederick L. Ware

      Frederick L. Ware is an assistant professor of theology at Howard University School of Divinity. He is an expert on black Pentecostalism, an ordained minister in the Church of God in Christ and a member of the World Council of Churches and Pentecostals Joint Consultative Group.

    Christianity: Protestants

    • Jeremiah A. Wright Jr.

      Jeremiah A. Wright Jr. is pastor emeritus of Trinity United Church of Christ, a predominantly African-American megachurch in Chicago. He participated in a conference of African-American pastors concerned with the effect of prosperity gospel in their churches. Trinity’s mission statement includes a “disavowal of the pursuit of middleclassness” and commitment to work toward economic parity.

    • Renita J. Weems

      The Rev. Renita J.Weems is associate professor of Hebrew Bible at Vanderbilt University Divinity School in Nashville and an ordained elder in the African Methodist Episcopal Church who has written extensively on family life, particularly women’s, in books, articles and newsletters.

      Contact: 615-343-3987.
    • Otis Moss III

      Otis Moss III is pastor of Trinity United Church of Christ in Chicago, which is led by Senior Pastor Jeremiah A. Wright Jr. Moss is known for his ability to speak to young people, extensive theological education and preaching. A poet, he wrote Redemption in a Red Light District: Messages of Hope, Healing, and Empowerment (FOUR-G Publishers, 2000).

      Contact: 773-962-5650.
    • Barbara Harris

      Barbara Harris is a retired Episcopal bishop. Harris was the first female bishop in the Anglican Communion. She is past president of the Episcopal Urban Caucus and has worked on prisoner issues and in other organizations serving the urban poor. She currently is assisting Bishop John B. Chane in the Diocese of Washington, D.C. Contact her through assistant Cheryl Wilburn.

    • James Forbes Jr.

      The Rev. James Forbes Jr. is senior minister emeritus at Riverside Church in New York City.

      Contact: 212-870-6700.
    • Floyd Flake

      The Rev. Floyd Flake is the senior pastor of Greater Allen AME Cathedral of New York in Jamaica, Queens, which has more than 18,000 members and extensive commercial and residential developments. He was a U.S. congressman for 11 years. He is also president of Wilberforce University in Ohio.

      Contact: 718-206-4600.
    • Katie Geneva Cannon

      Katie Geneva Cannon is president of the Society for the Study of Black Religion. She was the first black woman ordained in the United Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), and she is Annie Scales Rogers Professor of Christian Ethics at Union Theological Seminary and Presbyterian School of Christian Education in Richmond, Va. Her areas of expertise are womanist theology, women in society and religion and Christian ethics. She wrote the book of essays Katie’s Canon: Womanism and the Soul of the Black Community and Black Womanist Ethics (Continuum International, 1997).

    • Monte Sahlin

      Monte Sahlin is vice president for creative ministries with the Seventh-day Adventist Church, in which blacks make up 31 percent of members and which has 750 multiethnic congregations in which no ethnic group is more than 51 percent.

    • James Kenneth Echols

      James Kenneth Echols was president of the Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago until May 18, 2011. He edited I Have a Dream: Martin Luther King, Jr. and the Future of Multicultural America (Augsburg, 2004), and he is an expert on the subjects of African-Americans in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America.

    • Bernard Richardson

      Bernard Richardson is an ordained elder in the African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church. He teaches pastoral care and counseling at Howard University School of Divinity, where he also is dean of the Andrew Rankin Memorial Chapel.

    Christianity: Roman Catholics

    • Clarence Williams

      The Rev. Clarence Williams directs the Office for Black Catholic Ministries at the Archdiocese of Detroit and is pastor of St. Anthony Church in Detroit. He is president of the Black Catholic Televangelization Network and has worked nationally and internationally to heal racism and to create dialogue among African-Americans and Latinos. He is a member of the Missionaries of the Precious Blood and says that he was the first black priest in Cleveland, Ohio, to have been ordained there.

      Contact: 313-237-4695.
    • Jamie T. Phelps

      Sister Jamie T. Phelps is a professor of systematic theology and director of the Institute for Black Catholic Studies at Xavier University of Louisiana in New Orleans.

    • Cyprian Davis

      The Rev. Cyprian Davis is professor emeritus of church history at St. Meinrad School of Theology in St. Meinrad, Ind. He is a Benedictine monk and has expertise on African-American Christianity and on blacks and Catholicism.

      Contact: 812-357-6611.
    • Society of the Sacred Heart

      St. Joseph’s Society of the Sacred Heart (The Josephites) is a Baltimore-based, interracial society of priests and brothers who work in 45 parishes in African-American communities.

      Contact: 410-727-3386.
    • National Black Catholic Clergy Caucus

      The National Black Catholic Clergy Caucus is based in New York City.

      Contact: 212-868-1847.
    • Catholic African World Network

      The Black Catholic Information Mall has links to numerous groups and organizations.

    • National Black Catholic Congress

      The National Black Catholic Congress represents African American Roman Catholics, and works to evangelize the greater African American community. Valerie E. Washington is executive director. It is based in Baltimore.

    Afro-Caribbean religions

    • Yvonne Chireau

      Yvonne Chireau is an professor of religion at Swarthmore College in Pennsylvania and the author of numerous books and articles on the supernatural and African-American religion, including Black Magic: Religion and the African American Conjuring Tradition (University of California Press, 2003).

    • Patrick Bellegarde-Smith

      Patrick Bellegarde-Smith, a professor in the department of Africology at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, is an expert on Haitian Voodoo and on religion, gender and class issues in the African Diaspora. He edited Fragments of Bone: Neo-African Religions in a New World (University of Illinois, 2005) and co-edited (with Claudine Michel) two volumes on Vodou, Haitian Vodou: Spirit, Myth, And Reality (Indiana University Press, 2006) and Invisible Powers: Vodou in Haitian Life and Culture (Palgrave Macmillan, 2006).

    • Mozella Gordon Mitchell

      Mozella Gordon Mitchell is professor and chairwoman of religious studies at the University of South Florida in Tampa. Her expertise includes Afro-Caribbean religions and the history of African-American religion.

    • Claudine Michel

      Claudine Michel chairs the department of black studies at the University of California, Santa Barbara. She edits The Journal of Haitian Studies and co-edited (with Patrick Bellegarde-Smith) two books on Vodou, Haitian Vodou: Spirit, Myth, And Reality (Indiana University Press, 2006) and Invisible Powers: Vodou in Haitian Life and Culture (Palgrave Macmillan, 2006).

    Buddhism

    • Janice Willis

      Janice Willis is a retired professor emerita of religion and social sciences at Wesleyan University in Middletown, Conn. She is the author of Dreaming Me: An African American Woman’s Spiritual Journey. Read an excerpt on Beliefnet.com. Willis has talked about her journey from the segregated, revival-preacher South to a Buddhist monastery in Nepal where she began to find peace.

    • Angel Kyodo Williams

      Angel Kyodo Williams, an ordained Zen priest, is founder of New Dharma Meditation Center for Urban Peace in Oakland, Calif., and the author of Being Black: Zen and the Art of Living With Fearlessness and Grace (Viking Press, 2000). She can be contacted through her website.

      Contact: 510-547-3733.

    Islam

    • Ihsan Bagby

      Ihsan Bagby is an associate professor of Islamic studies at the University of Kentucky and an expert in Islam and its history and practice in North America. He is one of the authors of the research report “The American Mosque 2011.”

    • Edward E. Curtis IV

      Curtis is an associate professor of religious studies at Indiana University-Purdue University, Indianapolis. He is the author of Black Muslim Religion in the Nation of Islam: 1960-1975 (2006) and editor of The Columbia Sourcebook of Muslims in the United States (2008).

    • Sherman Jackson

      Sherman Jackson holds the King Faisal Chair of Islamic Thought and Culture at the University of Southern California, where he is also professor of religion and American studies and ethnicity. He was formerly the Arthur F. Thurnau Professor of Near Eastern Studies, Visiting Professor of Law and Professor of Afro-American Studies at the University of Michigan. His books include Islamic Law and the State: The Constitutional Jurisprudence of Shihâb al-Dîn al-Qarâfî and Islam & the Problem of Black Suffering.

    • Jamillah Karim

      Karim was an assistant professor in the department of philosophy and religious studies at Spelman College in Atlanta. She was reared in an African-American Muslim community. Her expertise is on race, gender and Islam; younger Muslims in the U.S.; and connections and tensions among African-American Muslims and immigrant Muslims in the U.S.

    • Aminah B. McCloud

      Aminah B. McCloud is a professor of religious studies at DePaul University in Chicago and director of the Islamic World Studies Program. She has written about black Muslims. She can also discuss the place of animals in the Muslim world. The notion of animal rights is a new one for Muslim societies, she says.

    • Debra Mubashshir Majeed

      Debra Mubashshir Majeed is an associate professor of philosophy and religious studies at Beloit College in Beloit, Wis. She has written about Clara Muhammad for the Encyclopedia of Women and Religion in North America (Indiana University Press, 2006).

    • Sulayman Nyang

      Nyang is 
a professor of African studies at Howard University. He teaches and has written extensively about Islam and was the co-principal investigator for the research project “Muslims in the American Public Square.”

    • Zaid Shakir

      Zaid Shakir is an African-American imam who converted to Islam during his service in the Air Force. He has a master’s degree in political science and received classical scholarly training in the Muslim world. He is a writer, speaker, teacher and activist, having founded several Muslim organizations in the eastern U.S. before becoming a resident scholar at Zaytuna Institute in Hayward, Calif., which calls him a leader in an emerging indigenous American Muslim tradition. Read his blog at New Islamic Directions.

    • Richard Brent Turner

      Richard Brent Turner is a professor of religious studies at the University of Iowa in Iowa City, where he teaches a course titled “African American Islam in International Perspective.” He wrote an article titled “Mainstream Islam in the African American Experience.”

    Judaism

    • Yvonne Chireau

      Yvonne Chireau is an professor of religion at Swarthmore College in Pennsylvania and the author of numerous books and articles on the supernatural and African-American religion, including Black Magic: Religion and the African American Conjuring Tradition (University of California Press, 2003).

    • Capers C. Funnye Jr.

      Capers C. Funnye Jr. is chief rabbi at Beth Shalom B’nai Zaken Ethiopian Hebrew Congregation in Chicago and is a member of the Chicago Board of Rabbis.

    • Julius Lester

      Julius Lester is emeritus professor at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst. He has had appointments in both Afro-American and Judaic studies. An African-American who was raised as a Christian, he converted to Judaism and found that he also has Jewish ancestry. His books include Lovesong: Becoming A Jew (Bullfinch Press,1988).

    Organizations

    Universities

    Conferences

    • Samuel DeWitt Proctor Conference

      Samuel DeWitt Proctor Conference works to “strengthen the capacity and network of the African American faith community and its leaders to address the needs of those it serves.”

    • National Urban League

      National Urban League, the nation’s oldest and largest community-based movement devoted to empowering African-Americans to enter the economic and social mainstream.

       

      Contact: 212-558-5300.
    • National Black Leadership Commission on AIDS

      National Black Leadership Commission on AIDS is the oldest non-profit organization of its kind in the U.S. It works to educate and empower African American leaders to fight and help protect against HIV/AIDS in local communities through education, policy, advocacy, research and resource development.

    • National Association for the Advancement of Colored People

      The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People organization works to ensure political, educational, social, and economic equality of rights of all persons and to eliminate race-based discrimination.

    • King Center in Atlanta

      The King Center in Atlanta educates people about the life of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., nonviolent conflict-reconciliation and social change.

    • Hampton University Ministers’ Conference

      Hampton University Ministers’ Conference in Hampton, Va. is the oldest nondenominational African-American ministers conference in the country. The organization works to address the concerns of the African American church and its relationships to the community.

      Contact: 757-727-5000.
    • Coalition of African-American Pastors

      Coalition of African-American Pastors is a Christian organization that works to promote the values of faith and family in U.S. communities.

    • African American Ministers in Action

      The African American Ministers in Action is a leadership program under People for the American Way. This program works to create justice and peace for struggling communities in the U.S. to create freedom and opportunity for all.

    • African American Ministers Leadership Council

      The African American Ministers Leadership Council is a nonprofit organization under People for the American Way that celebrates the historical role of the Black Church as a stronghold in a history of oppression.

    • The Balm in Gilead

      The Balm in Gilead is a nonprofit that gives faith communities resources to help stop the spread of AIDS.

    Other organizations

    • Faith Communities Today (FACT)

      Based at the Hartford Institute for Religion Research at Hartford Seminary. Has data from 2000, 2005, 2008, and 2010. The survey involved researchers and religious leaders in a survey of 14,300 American congregations of all faiths and denominations. FACT can provide information about megachurches (Protestant churches claiming 2,000 or more attending weekly worship), which have been growing at the same time as the planting of small churches has increased. The site also provides links to recent articles about church growth and trends.

    • Center for the Study of Religion and American Culture

      The Center for the Study of Religion and American Culture at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis explores the connection between religion and other aspects of American culture.

    • SocioWeb: The Sociological Resource Center

      SocioWeb: The Sociological Resource Center an independent guide to sociological resources available online.

    • Americas Society/ Council of the Americas

      The Americas Society/Council of the Americas provides information on diverse cultures in the Americas. It has offices in New York City, Washington D.C., and Miami.

    • BlackandChristian.com

      BlackandChristian.com is a voice for the African-American Christian community that provides educational resources on Christianity to help members and believers spread the message of Jesus Christ. 

    Regional sources

    In the Northeast

    • Cornel West

      Cornel West is the Princeton University Class of 1943 University Professor of Religion. His interests include philosophy of religion and cultural criticism. Among his many books are Race Matters and Democracy Matters. Among courses he teaches is “The Religious Dimensions of Du Bois, Baldwin and Morrison.”

    • Harold Dean Trulear

      Harold Dean Trulear, senior pastor of Mount Pleasant Baptist Church in Twin Oaks, Pa., is an expert on religion and social policy. He is associate professor of religious education at Howard University and is ordained in both the Progressive National Baptist Convention and American Baptist Churches in the USA.

    • Al Sharpton

      The Rev. Al Sharpton was a child preacher and was ordained as a minister at age 10. He has been organizing for social justice causes since he was a teenager and has run for U.S. Senate, for mayor of New York and for president of the U.S. He is host of The Al Sharpton Show, a radio talk show. Sharpton, once entertainer James Brown’s road manager, is known to many as a leader, to others as a divisive critic and to all as a power broker. He wrote Go & Tell the Pharaoh: The Autobiography of Reverend Al Sharpton. Contact him through Rachel Nordlinger.

    • Milton C. Sernett

      Milton C. Sernett is a history professor in the African-American studies department of Syracuse University. He wrote Bound for the Promised Land: African American Religion and the Great Migration (Duke University Press, 1997) and has co-chaired the American Academy of Religion’s African American Religious History Group. He has retired from teaching.

    • Cheryl J. Sanders

      Cheryl J. Sanders is professor of Christian ethics at Howard University School of Divinity and senior pastor of the Third Street Church of God in Washington, D.C. She has written extensively on race and culture and on the holiness-Pentecostal experience in African-American religion and culture. She can discuss the tradition of community work among black churches.

    • Albert J. Raboteau

      Albert J. Raboteau specializes in African-American religious history at Princeton University.

    • Frederick C. Harris

      Fredrick C. Harris is a political science professor at Columbia University in New York, where he directs the Institute for Research in African-American Studies and the Center on African-American Politics and Society. Among the books he has written are Something Within: Religion in African-American Political Activism and (with R. Drew Smith) Black Churches and Local Politics: Clergy Influence, Organizational Partnerships, and Civic Empowerment.

    • Barbara Harris

      Barbara Harris is a retired Episcopal bishop. Harris was the first female bishop in the Anglican Communion. She is past president of the Episcopal Urban Caucus and has worked on prisoner issues and in other organizations serving the urban poor. She currently is assisting Bishop John B. Chane in the Diocese of Washington, D.C. Contact her through assistant Cheryl Wilburn.

    • Horace L. Griffin

      Horace L. Griffin is an associate professor of pastoral theology at Pacific School of Religion in Berkeley, Calif. He has written several scholarly articles on theology and homosexuality.

    • William H. Gray III

      The Rev. William H. Gray III is pastor of Bright Hope Baptist Church in Philadelphia. He was formerly a former U.S. congressman and president of the United Negro College Fund.

      Contact: 215-232-6004.
    • Eddie Glaude Jr.

      Eddie Glaude Jr. is a professor of religion and African-American studies at Princeton University in Princeton, N.J. He specializes in African-American religious history and is the editor of Is It Nation Time? Contemporary Essays on Black Power and Black Nationalism.

    • James Forbes Jr.

      The Rev. James Forbes Jr. is senior minister emeritus at Riverside Church in New York City.

      Contact: 212-870-6700.
    • Floyd Flake

      The Rev. Floyd Flake is the senior pastor of Greater Allen AME Cathedral of New York in Jamaica, Queens, which has more than 18,000 members and extensive commercial and residential developments. He was a U.S. congressman for 11 years. He is also president of Wilberforce University in Ohio.

      Contact: 718-206-4600.
    • Cheryl R. Cooper

      Cheryl R. Cooper is Chief Operating Officer of the YWCA USA. She was formerly executive director of the National Council of Negro Women in Washington, D.C., which seeks to improve the quality of life for African-American women and their families.

      Contact: 202-737-0120.
    • Suzan Johnson Cook

      The Rev. Suzan Johnson Cook was appointed by President Barack Obama Ambassador at Large for International Religious Freedom, a position confirmed by the United States Senate. She was outgoing president of the Hampton University Ministers’ Conference, one of the largest annual gatherings of black clergy in the country, and a former White House Fellow. She is also senior pastor at the Bronx Christian Fellowship.

    • James H. Cone

      James H. Cone, Charles A. Briggs Distinguished Professor of systematic theology at Union Theological Seminary in New York, is the author of Risks of Faith: The Emergence of a Black Theology of Liberation, 1968-1998. He is widely considered to be one of the founders of black liberation theology, which frames Christianity as a means out of oppression.

    • Calvin O. Butts III

      The Rev. Calvin O. Butts III is head pastor of the Abyssinian Baptist Church in Harlem, N.Y. Butts chairs the National Black Leadership Commission on AIDS.

      Contact: 212-862-7474.
    • David A. Bositis

      David A. Bositis is a senior research associate at the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies, a think tank in Washington, D.C., that focuses on public policy issues of concern to African-Americans. He runs the center’s National Opinion Poll, which samples African-Americans as well as the general population. He is a source for statistics on African-Americans, churches and politics.

    • Eugene F. Rivers

      Eugene F. Rivers is pastor of Pentecostal Azusa Christian Community (affiliated with the Church of God in Christ) in south Boston and president of Ella J. Baker House community organization in the Dorchester Four Corners neighborhood of Boston. Rivers co-founded the clergy-led National Ten Point Leadership Foundation, which is credited with helping to diminish gang violence in Boston and other urban areas. He is also general secretary of the Pan African Charismatic Evangelical Congress, through which African-American churches help African churches with AIDS projects and through which they lobby to affect U.S. foreign policy. Rivers has worked with the White House on faith-based projects.

      Contact: 617-282-6704, 617-524-4331.
    • Cheryl Townsend Gilkes

      Cheryl Townsend Gilkes is a professor of sociology and African-American studies at Colby College in Waterville, Maine. She is an expert on black churches. She has written widely, including If It Wasn’t for the Women: Black Women’s Experience and Womanist Culture in Church and Community (Orbis Books, 2000).

    • Wallace D. Best

      Wallace D. Best is professor of religion and African-American studies at Princeton University. He has written about storefront churches and other topics concerning black Americans and religion, and he teaches a course titled “The African-American Sacred Music Tradition.”

    • William Julius Wilson

      William Julius Wilson is Lewis P. and Linda L. Geyser University Professor at Harvard University. A MacArthur Prize Fellow from 1987 to 1992 and former president of the American Sociological Association, Wilson has said that he looks, in addition to government, to religious organizations to reduce social problems in neighborhoods and to rebuild inner cities. He is known for classics such as The Declining Significance of Race: Blacks and Changing American Institutions (University Of Chicago Press, 1980) and When Work Disappears: The World of the New Urban Poor (Vintage, 1997). His expertise is in the areas of civil rights, the inner city, poverty, race, social policy and urban policy.

    • Debra Y. Fraser-Howze

      Debra Y. Fraser-Howze is president and CEO of the National Black Leadership Commission on AIDS. Her professional career has been spent delivering social services to African-American communities.

      Contact: 212-614-0023.
    • Melissa Harris-Lacewell

      Melissa Harris-Lacewell is the Maya Angelou presidential chair at Wake Forest University. There she is the executive director of the Pro Humanitate Institute and founding director of the Anna Julia Cooper Center. She is the author of Barbershops, Bibles, and BET: Everyday Talk and Black Political Thought (Princeton 2004).

    • Jeffrey McCune Jr.

      Jeffrey McCune Jr. is an associate professor of women, gender, and sexuality studies, as well as african and african american studies, at Washington University in St. Louis, Mo. He was a postdoctoral fellow at the Frederick Douglass Institute for African and African-American Studies at the University of Rochester in New York. He teaches about black masculinity, black sexual politics, women’s studies and LGBT studies.

    • Ronald B. Mincy

      Ronald B. Mincy is Maurice V. Russell Professor of Social Policy and Social Work Practice at Columbia University School of Social Work in New York. His work focuses on public policy, family, race, the role of men in poverty and the relationship between marriage and poverty. He coined the term “fragile families.” Mincy says that a third of all American children, and 70 percent of African-Americans, are born outside marriage.

    • Brenda Girton-Mitchell

      Brenda Girton-Mitchell is director of the Department’s Center for Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships. She is also chaplain to the National Bar Association and is a deacon trustee at the Metropolitan Baptist Church in Washington, D.C. She can discuss the NCC’s work on social issues, including marriage, single-parenthood and families. Contact 202-544-2350.

      Contact: 202-544-2350.
    • Robert L. Woodson Sr.

      Robert L. Woodson Sr. is founder and president of the Center for Neighborhood Enterprise (formerly the National Center for Neighborhood Enterprise) in Washington, D.C., which trains and supports community and faith-based programs. Woodson emphasizes self-help, market-oriented solutions to social problems. He is a John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Fellowship “genius award” recipient and wrote The Triumphs of Joseph: How Community Healers are Reviving Our Streets and Neighborhoods (Free Press, 1998).

      Contact: 202-518-6500.
    • Cheryl Lynn Greenberg

      Cheryl Lynn Greenberg, professor of history at Trinity College in Hartford, Conn., writes about 1960s black activism and about black-Jewish relations, including Troubling the Waters: Black-Jewish Relations in the American Century (Princeton University Press, 2006).

    • David W. Wills

      David W. Wills is Winthrop H. Smith ’16 Professor of American History and American Studies in the religion and black studies departments at Amherst College in Amherst, Mass. He is general editor of “African-American Religion: A Documentary History Project.” Wills is a historian of religion in the U.S. with particular emphasis on African-American religious history.

    • Bertram L. Melbourne

      Bertram L. Melbourne is an ordained minister of the Seventh-day Adventist Church and an associate professor of New Testament language and literature at Howard University School of Divinity.

    In the South

    • Anthony B. Pinn

      Anthony B. Pinn is a professor of humanities and religious studies at Rice University in Houston. He has been critical of the prosperity gospel preached in some black megachurches for its lack of emphasis on community service and charity. He is the author of Why, Lord?: Suffering and Evil in Black Theology and editor of Redemptive Suffering: a History of Theodicy in African-American Religious Thought. He also studies African-American religious humanism and is the author of African American Humanist Principles: Living and Thinking Like the Children of Nimrod (2004) and By These Hands: A Documentary History of African American Humanism (2001).

    • Sheron Patterson

      The Rev. Sheron Patterson is known for her books and her radio program, The Love Clinic. They focus on Christian relationships, particularly of African-American women. She is senior pastor of St. Paul’s United Methodist Church in Dallas.

    • Frederick Haynes III

      Frederick Haynes III is the senior pastor of Friendship-West Baptist Church in Dallas. He helped organize a conference for African-American pastors concerned about the spread and use of prosperity gospel, especially among African-Americans.

      Contact: 972-228-5200.
    • T.D. Jakes

      T.D. Jakes is the leader of the Potter’s House, a 30,000 member Pentecostal church in Dallas. He is a nationally known pastor and author.

      Contact: 1-800-BISHOP2.
    • Michael O. Emerson

      Michael O. Emerson is co-director of the Kinder Institute for Urban Research and is a sociology professor at Rice University in Houston. He has written several books on race and religion, including People of the Dream: Multiracial Congregations in the United States and Divided by Faith: Evangelical Religion and the Problem of Race in America. He is also the co-author of Passing the Plate: Why American Christians Don’t Give Away More Money (2008).

    • Kirbyjon Caldwell

      Kirbyjon Caldwell is senior pastor of Windsor Village United Methodist Church in Houston. He is the co-author of Entrepreneurial Faith: Launching Bold Initiatives to Expand God’s Kingdom (WaterBrook Press, 2004) and author of The Gospel of Good Success: A Road Map to Spiritual, Emotional and Financial Wholeness (Fireside, 2000). He was a spiritual adviser to President George W. Bush.

    • Claudette Anderson Copeland

      Evangelical speaker and minister Claudette Anderson Copeland founded New Creation Christian Fellowship and Destiny Ministries for women. She wrote Stories From Inner Space: Confessions of a Preacher Woman and Other Tales (Red Nail Press, 2003) and Coming Through the Darkness: Cancer and One Woman’s Journey to Wholeness (Destiny Press, 2000). Contact her through executive director Destiny Ministries.

    • Renita J. Weems

      The Rev. Renita J.Weems is associate professor of Hebrew Bible at Vanderbilt University Divinity School in Nashville and an ordained elder in the African Methodist Episcopal Church who has written extensively on family life, particularly women’s, in books, articles and newsletters.

      Contact: 615-343-3987.
    • Vashti M. McKenzie

      Vashti (pronounced “Vasht-eye”) M. McKenzie is bishop of the 13th Episcopal District of the African Methodist Episcopal Church, the first woman bishop in the denomination. Formerly a journalist and radio broadcaster, she wrote Not Without a Struggle: Leadership Development for African American Women in Ministry (Pilgrim Press, 1996) and Strength in the Struggle: Leadership Development for Women (Pilgrim Press, 2002).

    • Shayne Lee

      Shayne Lee is an assistant professor of sociology at Tulane University in New Orleans. He is the author of T.D. Jakes: America’s New Preacher (New York University Press, 2005).

    • Forrest Harris

      Forrest Harris is director of the Kelly Miller Smith Institute on African-American Church Studies at Vanderbilt University Divinity School in Nashville, Tenn. as well as an associate professor of the practice of ministry. He teaches courses on the theology of ministry in the black church tradition and can discuss liberation theology and social justice.

    • David Chappell

      David Chappell is associate professor of history at the University of Arkansas and a historian of the American South, the civil rights movement and race relations in the United States. He is the author of A Stone of Hope: Prophetic Religion and the Death of Jim Crow (University of North Carolina, 2004).

    • R. Drew Smith

      R. Drew Smith is a Baptist minister and professor of urban ministry at Pittsburgh Theological Seminary. He has studied and written about black megachurches and has edited four volumes on American religion and public life, including New Day Begun: African American Churches and Civic Culture in Post-Civil Rights America.

    • Martha Simmons

      Martha Simmons is publisher of the nondenominational preaching and ministry journal The African American Pulpit, and she is an associate minister at Rush Memorial United Church of Christ in Atlanta. Simmons has preached throughout the country for 20 years in a variety of ministerial capacities and has her finger on the pulse of trends, changes and issues in the black Christian world. She invites reporters to consult on story ideas, on finding experts and checking the accuracy of their reporting. Simmons co-edited The Norton Anthology of African American Preaching: 1650-2005, and she commissioned scholars to create the African American Lectionary, a resource tool launched in 2007 that highlights African-American ecclesial traditions.

    • Rosetta E. Ross

      Rosetta E. Ross is an associate professor of religion and chairs the department of philosophy and religious studies at Spelman College in Atlanta. An elder in the United Methodist Church, she writes and lectures widely about African-American religion and is treasurer of the Society for the Study of Black Religion. She is an expert on women in the civil rights movement, and she wrote Witnessing and Testifying: Black Women, Religion, and Civil Rights (Augsburg Fortress, 2003).

    • Stephen C. Rasor

      Stephen C. Rasor wrote (with Christine D. Chapman) Black Power from the Pew: Laity Connecting Congregations and Communities (Pilgrim, 2007). Rasor is a professor of sociology of religion at the Interdenominational Theological Center, where he directs the doctor of ministry program.

    • Michael Leo Owens

      Michael Leo Owens is an associate professor of political science at Emory University in Atlanta, Ga. specializing in urban politics; state and local politics; political penology; governance and public policy processes; religion and politics; and African American politics. He is the author of the 2007 book God and Government in the Ghetto: The Politics of Church-State Collaboration in Black America and numerous articles and essays on faith-based community development and political mobilization by congregations in the United States.

    • Stephanie Mitchem

      Stephanie Mitchem is a professor of womanist theology and African-American spirituality at the University of South Carolina in Columbia, S.C. She is the author of Name It and Claim It? Prosperity Preaching in the Black Church (Pilgrim Press, 2006).

    • Cheryl Kirk-Duggan

      Cheryl Kirk-Duggan is a professor of theology and women’s studies at the Shaw University Divinity School in Raleigh, N.C. She can discuss the current celebration of Kwanzaa in black communities and congregations in the South.

    • Laurie Maffly-Kipp

      Laurie Maffly-Kipp is an associate professor of religious studies at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. She edited the Penguin Classics edition American Scriptures and can talk about the role of the King James Bible in American religious history.

    • Jacquelyn Grant

      Jacquelyn Grant is Callaway Professor of Systematic Theology at the Interdenominational Theological Center in Atlanta, where she founded and directs the Center for Black Women in Church and Society. She wrote White Women’s Christ and Black Women’s Jesus: Feminist Christology and Womanist Response (American Academy of Religion, 1988). She is also assistant minister at Victory African Methodist Episcopal Church in Atlanta.

    • Robert M. Franklin

      Robert M. Franklin was tenth president of Morehouse College in Atlanta. He was ordained in the Church of God in Christ and worships in several different traditions. He has previously been president of the Interdenominational Theological Center, directed black church studies at Candler School of Theology and has been the Ford Foundation’s program officer, directing grants to African-American churches delivering secular social services. He is a frequent commentator and radio and TV guest. Among the books he has written are Crisis in the Village: Restoring Hope to African American Communities (Fortress, February 2007) and Another Day’s Journey: Black Churches Confronting the American Crisis (Fortress, 1997).

    • Christine D. Chapman

      Christine D. Chapman wrote (with Stephen C. Rasor) Black Power From the Pew: Laity Connecting Congregations and Communities (Pilgrim, 2007). She is an adjunct professor at Georgia State University and at the Interdenominational Theological Center.

      Contact: 404-527-7700.
    • Katie Geneva Cannon

      Katie Geneva Cannon is president of the Society for the Study of Black Religion. She was the first black woman ordained in the United Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), and she is Annie Scales Rogers Professor of Christian Ethics at Union Theological Seminary and Presbyterian School of Christian Education in Richmond, Va. Her areas of expertise are womanist theology, women in society and religion and Christian ethics. She wrote the book of essays Katie’s Canon: Womanism and the Soul of the Black Community and Black Womanist Ethics (Continuum International, 1997).

    • Allison Calhoun-Brown

      Allison Calhoun-Brown is associate professor of political science at Georgia State University. She specializes in religion and politics and African-American politics.

    • James Abbington

      James Abbington is associate professor of music and worship at Emory University’s Candler School of Theology in Atlanta. He wrote Let Mt. Zion Rejoice! Music in the African American Church (Judson Press, 2001).

    • Theodore Walker Jr.

      Theodore Walker Jr. is associate professor of ethics and society at the Perkins School of Theology at Southern Methodist University in Dallas. He wrote the book Empower the People: Social Ethics for the African-American Church, about African-American resources for a more inclusive liberation theology.

       

    • Byron L. Sherwin

      Byron L. Sherwin is a professor of Jewish studies at the Spertus Institute of Jewish Studies in Chicago. He is a renowned Jewish theologian, ethicist, scholar of Jewish philosophy and mysticism.

    • Karen Baker-Fletcher

      Karen Baker-Fletcher is a professor of systematic theology at Southern Methodist University’s Perkins School of Theology. She specializes in womanist theology and is the co-author of My Sister, My Brother: Womanist and Xodus God-Talk. Baker-Fletcher’s research interests also include ecology, and in 2007 the environmental magazine Grist named her as one of 15 top religious leaders on green issues.

    • Leo Davis Jr.

      Leo Davis Jr. is artistic director at Gia Publications, Inc. in Chicago, Ill. Davis has a scholarly background in black church worship and can discuss contemporary influences and trends in church music.

      Contact: 800-442-1358, 708-496-3800.
    • Rudolph McKissick Jr.

      Rudolph McKissick Jr. is co-senior pastor at the 9,000-member Bethel Baptist Institutional Church in Jacksonville, Fla. He is a national leader in contemporary sacred music and developed a professional-quality national recording choir at his church. He is an expert in sacred music and opera.

    • Alice M. Graham

      Alice M. Graham is professor of pastoral care and counseling at Hood Theological Seminary in Salisbury, N.C. She is an ordained minister in the American Baptist denomination. Among her interests is the subject of the psychological and emotional issues facing inmates released from prison. She teaches a seminar for inmates in a transitional program at North Carolina Department of Corrections’ Piedmont Correctional Institute in Salisbury.

      Contact: 704-636-7611.
    • Felicia Dix-Richardson

      Felicia Dix-Richardson is assistant professor of sociology and criminal justice at Florida A&M University in Tallahassee. She has studied religious conversion in prisons, particularly among African-American women, and is expert on the topics of race, religion and inmate culture.

      Contact: 850-599-3316.
    • Michael I.N. Dash

      Michael I.N. Dash is professor of ministry and context at the Interdenominational Theological Center. He co-directed the ITC/Faith Factor Project 2000 study, which focused on African-American congregations and is part of Hartford Seminary’s Faith Communities Today project.

    • Melva Wilson Costen

      Melva Wilson Costen is an authority on music and worship in the black church. She wrote the widely consulted African American Christian Worship (Abingdon Press, 1993) and In Spirit and In Truth: The Music of African American Worship (Westminster, 2004). She recently retired from the Interdenominational Theological Center in Atlanta, where she was Helmar Emil Nielsen Professor of Music and Worship.

    • Earl E. McCloud Jr.

      Bishop Earl E. McCloud Jr. is ecumenical affairs officer for the African Methodist Episcopal Church. He and leaders of the Interdenominational Theological Center organized a September 2006 meeting of 300 representatives of historic black churches and black Muslim leaders in Atlanta to organize an initiative against “black on black crime” in Atlanta.

    • Betty Glover Palmer

      Betty Glover Palmer chairs the department of urban studies at Beulah Heights Bible College in Atlanta, where she also directs the Institute for Urban and Global Economic Development. She works to provide opportunities for urban and global disenfranchised families and communities. She is ordained through the Evangelical Church Alliance. Her B.G. Palmer Economic Development Training consults with and trains faith-based and nonprofit organizations.

    • Victor Anderson

      Victor Anderson is Oberlin Theological School Professor of Ethics and Society at Vanderbilt Divinity School. He is also professor and director of the Program in African American and Diaspora Studies and Religious Studies in Vanderbilt’s College of Arts and Sciences. Anderson was ordained in the Christian Reformed Church. His areas of expertise include African-American political theology, 20th-century ethics, American pragmatism, religion and morality.

    • Stacy Abramson

      Stacy Abramson is executive director of Reboot, which seeks to “reboot” Jewish traditions, particularly for young people, through innovation, including salons across the country, journals, books and films. It’s based in New York City.

    • Hans A. Baer

      Hans A. Baer is a professor in the department of sociology and anthropology at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock. He wrote The Black Spiritual Movement: A Religious Response to Racism (University of Tennessee Press, 2001) and African American Religion: Varieties of Protest and Accommodation (University of Tennessee Press, 2002).

    • Maisha Itia Handy

      Maisha Itia Handy is a womanist scholar and assistant professor of Christian education at the Interdenominational Theological Seminary in Atlanta. She is also minister of Christian education at First Iconium Baptist Church in Atlanta.

    In the Midwest

    • Lorraine Blackman

      Lorraine Blackman, associate professor at the Indiana University School of Social Work, is director of the African American Family Life Education Program, an educational, research and service project that teaches family life skills.

    • Mellonee V. Burnim

      Mellonee V. Burnim is an associate professor of folklore and ethnomusicology at Indiana University-Bloomington. Her focus is black religious music and aesthetics and music of the African Diaspora.

    • Cyprian Davis

      The Rev. Cyprian Davis is professor emeritus of church history at St. Meinrad School of Theology in St. Meinrad, Ind. He is a Benedictine monk and has expertise on African-American Christianity and on blacks and Catholicism.

      Contact: 812-357-6611.
    • Quinton Hosford Dixie

      Quinton Hosford Dixie advised the makers of the PBS series “This Far by Faith” and, with Juan Williams, co-wrote the book of the same title. He also edited (with Cornel West) The Courage to Hope: From Black Suffering to Human Redemption (Beacon Press, 1999). Dixie teaches in the philosophy department of Indiana University-Purdue University, Fort Wayne. He also has expertise in civil rights, and the spirituality of hip-hop.

    • Leah Gaskin Fitchue

      Leah Gaskin Fitchue, the first woman to be president of a historically black theological seminary, heads the 160-year-old Payne Theological Seminary in Wilberforce, Ohio. The school is affiliated with the African Methodist Episcopal Church. Previously, Fitchue was a consultant in leadership development and organizational and community transformation for church and faith-based organizations. She is also the first African-American woman president of the Association of Theological Schools. She belongs to the Christian Community Development Association and the Association of Urban Theological Education & Ministry and is a regent of Northwest Graduate School of the Ministry and International Urban Associates. She is an ordained Itinerant Elder in the AME Church.

      Contact: 937-376-2946.
    • Jesse Jackson

      The Rev. Jesse Jackson is founder and president of the Rainbow/PUSH Coalition, the Chicago organization that works on issues involving economic development and economic justice, health care, voter registration, jobs and peace.

    • Aldon D. Morris

      Aldon D. Morris is a professor of sociology and African-American studies at Northwestern University in Evanston, Ill. His classic book The Origins of the Civil Rights Movement: Black Communities Organizing for Change (Free Press, 1986) examines black church organization and influence on the civil rights movement.

    • Otis Moss III

      Otis Moss III is pastor of Trinity United Church of Christ in Chicago, which is led by Senior Pastor Jeremiah A. Wright Jr. Moss is known for his ability to speak to young people, extensive theological education and preaching. A poet, he wrote Redemption in a Red Light District: Messages of Hope, Healing, and Empowerment (FOUR-G Publishers, 2000).

      Contact: 773-962-5650.
    • Linda E. Thomas

      Linda E. Thomas, professor of theology and anthropology at Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago, has written about survival and resistance in an African indigenous church and about ritual process and spiritual resilience in South Africa.

    • Antonio Tillis

      Antonio Tillis is associate professor and chair of African American studies at Dartmouth University. He can discuss cultural, economic, political and social influences on black men in the U.S., including personal relationships, sexuality, self-definition, criminal justice and media representations.

    • Jeremiah A. Wright Jr.

      Jeremiah A. Wright Jr. is pastor emeritus of Trinity United Church of Christ, a predominantly African-American megachurch in Chicago. He participated in a conference of African-American pastors concerned with the effect of prosperity gospel in their churches. Trinity’s mission statement includes a “disavowal of the pursuit of middleclassness” and commitment to work toward economic parity.

    • Frederick Denny

      Frederick Denny is professor emeritus  at the University of Colorado, Boulder, and he has a background in Islamic studies and the history of religions.

    • Paul Harvey

      Paul Harvey is a professor of American history at the University of Colorado in Colorado Springs. He wrote Freedom’s Coming: Religious Culture and the Shaping of the South From the Civil War Through the Civil Rights Era and (with Philip Goff) The Columbia Documentary History of Religion in America Since 1945. He is working on a history of religion, race and American ideas of freedom.

    In the West

    • Mark A. Chaves

      Mark A. Chaves is professor of sociology, religion and divinity at Duke University in Durham, N.C. He is an expert on religion in American politics and wrote the books Religious Congregations and Welfare Reform: Who Will Take Advantage of Charitable Choice? (The Aspen Institute, 1999) and Congregations in America (Harvard University Press, 2004). He says Americans want their religious leaders to be less involved in politics.

    • Clayborne Carson

      Clayborne Carson is a Stanford University history professor and founding director of the Martin Luther King Jr. Research and Education Institute. He is an expert on the interface between faith and social justice.

    • Vincent Wimbush

      Vincent Wimbush is a religion professor at Claremont Graduate University. He also directs the Institute for Signifying Scriptures in Claremont, Calif. His three-year “African Americans and the Bible” research project was funded by the Ford Foundation and the Lilly Endowment.

    • Cecil Williams

      Cecil Williams has been the pastor of the 7,000-member Glide Memorial United Methodist Church, in San Francisco’s gritty Tenderloin district since 1963. He is a spiritual, political and social force in the Bay Area, and the church is a leading voice in promoting diversity of all sorts, social activism and community programs.

      Contact: 415-674-6100.
    • Charlyn M. Singleton

      Charlyn M. Singleton is president of God’s Woman Conferences, based in Rialto, Calif. She is a motivational and revival speaker, working with youth, women and men at conferences, marriage events, retreats, workshops and worship services.

    • James N. Gregory

      James N. Gregory is a history professor at the University of Washington and director of the Seattle Civil Rights and Labor History Project. Among books he has written is The Southern Diaspora: How the Great Migrations of Black and White Southerners Transformed America (The University of North Carolina Press, 2006).

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