On Tuesday, March 12th, 2013, Eddie Glaude considered how the “blind spots” in African American religious historiography block the way to a more nuanced engagement with the powerful phenomenon of celebrity preachers and their mega churches.  More specifically, he examined W.E.B. Du Bois’s classic essay, “Of the Faith of the Fathers,” as a paradigmatic example of the evasion of forms of African American Christian expression that complicate traditional narratives of the prophetic role of black churches in African American politics.  Glaude maintained that a different story must be told about the relationship between African American religion and political debate if we are to understand more fully how shifts and changes among African American Christians today affect the form and content of black public debate about political questions.  Too often certain rigid assumptions about that relationship impede inquiry. His aim was not so much to engage in a close reading of the ministries of celebrity black preachers but, rather, to open up conceptual space for a fuller understanding of the political significance of African American mega churches and their pastors at the beginning of the 21st century.

Eddie Glaude the William S. Tod Professor of Religion and African American Studies, Department of Religion, and Chair, Center for African American Studies at Princeton University and Visiting Professor in the Department of Religion at Columbia University.He is also a Senior Fellow at The Jamestown Project at Harvard University. Widely regarded as one of the brightest young intellectuals in the US today, Glaude offers a critical and insightful view on the problems currently facing black America as well as the nation at large. He is the author of several books. His latest awarding book, In a Shade of Blue: Pragmatism and the Politics of Black America, has been characterized as a tour de force – establishing him as “one of the most visionary thinkers of our time.”

Moderated by Josef Sorett, assistant professor of Religion and African-American Studies at Columbia University. He is an interdisciplinary historian of religion in America, with a particular focus on black communities and cultures in the United States. His research and teaching interests include American religious history; African American religions; hip hop, popular culture and the arts; gender and sexuality; and the role of religion in public life. Josef earned his Ph.D. in African American Studies from Harvard University; and he holds a B.S. from Oral Roberts University and an M.Div. from Boston University.