African Americans and the Bible

New York City

It was
“an exercise in defiance,”
“a radical changing of the subject of conversation,”
“a disruption of all sorts of boundaries,”
“a celebration of multiple voices,”
“a reading of worlds.”

These were but a few of the expressions used by participants attempting to describe the conference “African Americans and the Bible” held at Union Theological Seminary April 8-11, 1999. Featuring more than 65 scholarly presentations from a wide range of disciplines and the arts, the conference was the culminating event of a three-year research project directed by Vincent L. Wimbush, then professor of New Testament and Christian Origins at Union Theological Seminar, and funded by the Lilly Endowment and the Ford Foundation. The more than 300 registrants represented 134 different organizations or institutions from throughout the U.S. and abroad.

Presenters from the field of biblical and religious studies included:

Barbara Holdrege, University of California, Santa Barbara
Charles Mabee, Ecumenical Theological Seminary
Cheryl Sanders, Howard University School of Divinity
Theophus Smith, Emory University
Elizabeth Castelli, Barnard College
Randal Bailey, Interdenominational Theological Center
Elisabeth Schussler Fiorenza, Harvard Divinity School
and many others.

The roster of presenters also included several prominent scholars from other fields:

Sterling Stuckey, Dept. of History, University of California at Riverside
Genevieve Fabre, Center of d’Etudes Afr. Americaines, Universite Paris
Farah J. Griffin, Dept. of English, University of Pennsylvania
Hans A. Baer, Dept. of Sociology & Anthropology, University of Arkansas at Little Rock.

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