Disrupt the Narrative: Centering African American Perspectives on Religious Freedom

June 7, 2019 @ 9:00 am – 4:00 pm
Knight Conference Center
555 Pennsylvania Ave NW Washington
DC 20001 USA
Registration for this program is closed.

This public conversation will explore the ethics and complex politics of race and religious freedom by centering the issues, narratives and experiences of African Americans in the United States.

This program is the second in a series of public events exploring the politics of religious freedom through our “Religious Freedom: African American Perspectives” project. During this program, participants will hear from scholars, practitioners and community leaders who are making invaluable contributions to this critical discussion. This program is also designed to encourage participants to think through practical ways to take action around religious freedom issues in their community. Participants will engage in small group discussions, a community talkback session and explore opportunities to think through next steps together.


Keynote Speaker
Tisa Joy Wenger, Ph.D.

Tisa Joy Wenger, Ph.D., is associate professor of American Religious History at Yale Divinity School as well as of American Studies and Religious Studies at Yale University. She is the author of “Religious Freedom: The Contested History of an American Ideal” (University of North Carolina Press, 2017).

Scholars Panel
Corey D. B. Walker

Corey D.B. Walker, Ph.D. (moderator), visiting professor at the University of Richmond and senior fellow, Religious Freedom Center of the Freedom Forum Institute.

Teresa Smallwood, J.D., Ph.D.

Teresa Smallwood, J.D., Ph.D., associate director for Public Theology and Racial Justice Collaborative at Vanderbilt University.

Alphonso F. Saville IV, Ph.D.,

Alphonso F. Saville IV, Ph.D., Andrew W. Mellon postdoctoral fellow for the Study of American Religion and Slavery at Georgetown University.

Practitioners Panel
Faith Harris, D.Min.

Faith Harris, D.Min. (moderator), assistant professor of Theology and director, Johnson A. Edosomwan Center for Faith, Leadership, and Public Life at the Samuel DeWitt Proctor School of Theology.

Itihari Toure, Ed.D.

Itihari Toure, Ed.D., director of the Sankofa Center for Data Evaluation and Quality Enhancement at Interdenominational Theological Center.

Charles Watson Jr., M.Div.

Charles Watson Jr., M.Div., director of education for the Baptist Joint Committee for Religious Liberty.

Mandisa L. Thomas

Mandisa L. Thomas, founder and president, Black Nonbelievers, Inc.

Iva Carruthers, Ph.D.

Iva Carruthers, Ph.D., general secretary of Samuel DeWitt Proctor Conference, a social justice network that engages progressive African-American faith leaders.

Community Talkback Panel
The Rev. Thomas Bowen

The Rev. Thomas Bowen (moderator), director of the Office of Religious Affairs in the Executive Office of the Mayor of Washington, D.C., and interim director of the Mayor’s Office on African American Affairs and the Commission on Fathers, Men and Boys.

Rahmah A. Abdulaleem, Esq.

Rahmah A. Abdulaleem, Esq., executive director, KARAMAH: Muslim Women Lawyers for Human Rights.

Charity L. Woods

Charity L. Woods, co-founder and managing director, Interfaith Voices for Reproductive Justice.

Shavon Arline-Bradley, M.Div.

Shavon Arline-Bradley, MPH, M.Div., founding principal of R.E.A.C.H. Beyond Solutions LLC, a public health, policy/advocacy, faith and executive leadership firm.

William H. Lamar IV, M.Div.

The Rev. William H. Lamar IV, M.Div., pastor of Metropolitan African Methodist Episcopal Church in Washington.

Henry Luce Foundation

This program was made possible by generous support from the Henry Luce Foundation.



Baptist Joint Committee
Hood Theological Seminary
Howard University School of Divinity
Metropolitan African Methodist Episcopal Church
Payne Theological Seminary
Samuel Dewitt Proctor-Theology
Shaw University Divinity School


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