Black Christianity and Radical Education

Spring 2018
Th 1:30 - 3:20pm
Area IV
MDIV Requirements: 
Permission Not Required
No Limit to Enrollment
Course Description: 

Can religion and education support black liberation and freedom struggles? Have they always done so? In this course, we carefully interrogate the historical connections between Christianity, education, and struggles for freedom within African American communities and what I have come to describes as radical black religious education during the late 19th and 20th century.

Throughout the semester, students will explore the ways that scholars have theorized about the radical or progressive dimensions of African American religion, as well as the different definitions and visions of radicalism and social flourishing which shape how religion, education, and social change intersected at various points throughout the 20th century. At times, we will challenge what has been included in the religious educational tradition of African Americans and what is considered radical. In part, this includes reframing dominant understandings of the contributions of great educators and intellectuals to hold in tension valuing the work of black male intellectuals and the ongoing silencing and obscuring of black women’s social and intellectual work.

                The course begins reflecting on early Black religious educators and missionaries, like Daniel Alexander Payne and Amanda Smith, whose work in the 19th century sets the stage for the evolution of radical religious education in the 20th century. It continues by focusing on the work of scholars such as Anna Julia Cooper, W. E. B. Du Bois, Ida B. Wells, Nannie Helen Burroughs, and Carter G. Woodson, as well as the mid-20th century religiously inspired social activism and the education which undergirded much of the Civil Rights movement.  The course concludes by investigating the corresponding changes in Black churches and religious academies as a result of articulations of black power and black freedom and by noting the ongoing significance of questions regarding the interconnection of race, religion, and radical education in contemporary social change movements.

Background Expected: 


Course Requirements: 

Students are expected to complete weekly readings (see syllabus for most up to date readings) and complete the following assignments: CLASS PARTICIPATION:  (15% of final grade),  READING REFLECTION JOURNAL/PAPERS: (35% of final grade, four one-page each), and FINAL PAPER: (45%, 10-12 pages) 

Basis of Evaluation: 

See syllabus and grading rubric.