Eddie S. Glaude Jr., William S. Tod Professor of Religion and African American Studies at Princeton University, gave NC State’s second annual Impact of Religion Lecture on March 30, 2017 to a large audience of students, faculty and visitors. The lecture was followed by comments by Joseph R. Winters, Assistant Professor of Religious Studies at Duke University, who discussed its place within the context of inquiry into African-American religious thought.
A regular guest on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe,” Glaude is well known for his many media appearances. He is also an outstanding scholar who has written several influential books, including Exodus! Religion, Race, and Nation in Early 19th Century Black America and In a Shade of Blue: Pragmatism and the Politics of Black America. He is the 2017 President of the American Academy of Religion.
In his lecture, “The Problem of ‘African-American Religion’: A Scholar’s Dilemma,” Glaude distinguished between the religions of African Americans and the scholarly category “African American Religion,” which he interpreted as an expression of a practice of freedom and a sign of difference.
Glaude vividly illustrated the diversity of the religious institutions, practices and experiences of African Americans by describing his own experience growing up as member of a Black parish of the Catholic Church in coastal Mississippi and his first childhood encounter with the evangelical Black Church. Drawing on American pragmatist thought, he argued that the category “African American Religion” cannot capture this diversity, and that the utility of the category depends upon social and historical conditions.