What is the past and continuing influence of African-American churches on U.S. politics?
Biblical scholar Obery Hendricks, historian Barbara Savage, and theologian Yolanda Pierce discuss religion and power in America.
Obery Hendricks is a Professor of Biblical Interpretation at the New York Theological Seminary. He earned his M.Div. at Princeton Theological Seminary, where he was later a visiting scholar, and his Ph.D. at Princeton University. He has served as a professor at Drew University and as president of Payne Theological Seminary. He is an Ordained Elder in the African Methodist Episcopal Church and the author of The Politics of Jesus: Rediscovering the True Revolutionary Nature of Jesus' Teachings and How They Have Been Corrupted and Living Water, a novel.
Yolanda Pierce is the Elmer G. Homrighausen Associate Professor of African American Religion and Literature at Princeton Theological Seminary, and Liaison with the Princeton University Afro-American Studies Program. Pierce earned her M.A. in English and African American Studies and her Ph.D. in English from Cornell University. A member of an Assemblies of God church, she serves on the executive committee for the Society of Literature and Religion. She teaches courses in African American religious history, womanist theology, and literature and religion. She is the author of "Her Refusal to Be Re(Caste): Annie Burton's Narrative of Resistance," in The Southern Literary Journal; Hell without Fires: Slavery, Christianity, and the Antebellum Spiritual Narrative, a volume in The History of African American Religion Series; and "Redeeming Bondage: Captivity Narratives and Spiritual Autobiographies in the Slave Narrative Tradition," in The Cambridge Companion to the Slave Narrative.
Barbara Dianne Savage is Geraldine R. Segal Professor of American Social Thought at the University of Pennsylvania, where she has been a member of the faculty since 1995. Her research and her teaching center on twentieth century African American political and religious history and the historical relationship between race, media, and politics. She is the author, most recently, of Your Spirits Walk Beside Us: The Politics of Black Religion. In addition, she served as the co-editor (along with R. Marie Griffith, Princeton University) of Women and Religion in the African Diaspora: Knowledge, Power, and Performance. She is the author of the award-winning Broadcasting Freedom: Radio, War and the Politics of Race, 1938-1948, as well as articles on African American religion and politics. She has held fellowships at the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study, the Schomburg Center for the Study of Black Culture, the Center for the Study of Religion at Princeton, and the Smithsonian Institution. Prior to receiving her graduate degree from Yale University, she was the Director of Federal Relations, Office of the General Counsel, Yale University; she also has served on the staff for the United States Congress and the Children's Defense Fund.
A panel consisting of Biblical scholar Obery Hendricks, historian Barbara Savage, and theologian Yolanda Pierce states that Rev. Jeremiah Wright was demonized by the media.
Issues raised during the conversation include white America's fear of racial sensibility, the use of sound bites in the coverage of Rev. Wright, and past lessons learned from when Jesse Jackson was the politician and preacher.
Historian Barbara Savage asserts that Senator Barack Obama and Rev. Jeremiah Wright are parallel figures of the post Civil Rights movement.
Savage says that what separates them is Obama's pursuit for the Presidency, which sets up a natural conflict based on public assumptions that one cannot be both a spiritual person, and a rational person.