Online Forum-Womanist Theology: A Black Woman’s Intellectual Movement

Alice Walker gives TED Talk in April 2011. (Lazar Simeonov/Flickr Creative Commons)

November 10, 2023 to November 20, 2023

Black Perspectives, the award-winning blog of the African American Intellectual History Society (AAIHS), is hosting an online forum considering the origins and the rise of Womanist theological scholarship. The week-long online forum brings together scholars to discuss the importance of Womanism to Black theology and Black churches. The forum begins on Friday, November 10, and concludes on Monday, November 20, 2023. It features an introduction by Tejai Beulah Howard followed with essays by Amber Neal Stanley; Marlas Yvonne Whitley; Joshua Ro; Jaime Crumley; A’Dorian Murray-Thomas; and Carla Jones Brown.

During the online forum, Black Perspectives will publish new blog posts every day at 5:00 AM EST. Please follow Black Perspectives (@BlkPerspectives) and AAIHS (@AAIHS) on Twitter/X or @AAIHS (@AAIHS23) on Instagram; like AAIHS on Facebook; or subscribe to our blog for updates. By subscribing to Black Perspectives, each new post will automatically be delivered to your inbox during the week of the forum.

About the Organizer

Tejai Beulah Howard, Ph.D. is assistant professor of history and African American religious and ethical studies at Methodist Theological School in Ohio in Delaware, Ohio and a certified spiritual director. Her research interests include Black religious intellectuals, gender and sexuality in U.S. history, African American music, spirituality, and social movements, and race/ethnicity studies. Outside of teaching, she is involved with Freedom Church of the Poor and several professional organizations. Dr. Beulah Howard’s recent writing is featured in the book, We Cry Justice: Reading the Bible with the Poor People’s Campaign (Broadleaf, 2021) edited by Rev. Liz Theoharis, The Other Journal, Interpretation: A Journal of Bible and Theology, and Journal of American Academy of Religion. She is currently at work on a monograph on the role of the black power movement and black evangelical preachers. For fun, she enjoys music, bookstores, true crime documentaries, and sports. She resides in Columbus, Ohio with her amazing spouse, Jenn.


About the Participants

Amber Neal Stanley, Ph.D. is an Assistant Professor of Curriculum Studies in the department of Curriculum and Instruction at Purdue University. Her research agenda converges at the intersections of critical Black studies in education, Black feminist qualitative approaches, and spirituality as a vehicle for educational transformation. Her work is informed by her lived experiences, memories and herstories as a Detroit Public School (DPS) student as well as appointments as a social worker and public elementary school teacher. Dr. Neal-Stanley is committed to preparing the next generation to address structural inequity, (re)member Black radical traditions, and utilize intersectional analyses, and humanizing pedagogical and research approaches. An award-winning educator and scholar, Dr. Neal-Stanley was recently granted the American Educational Research Association (AERA) Minority Dissertation Fellowship in Education Research for her project entitled “Black Women Abolitionist Teachers and the Spirit of Our Work”, honoring the radical faith that undergirded the educational activism and abolitionist efforts of historical Black women teachers.



Marlas Yvonne Whitley is a graduate student in English at New York University. Her current research examines the significance of purple in Black women’s visual, textual and material rhetorics, as well as working with color theory as a catalyst for thinking through and with Black women’s intellectual traditions.




Joshua Ro is an STM student at Union Theological Seminary in New York City, concentrating on Religion and the Black Experience. He received his M.Div at Westminster Theological Seminary in Glenside, Pennsylvania. He is also an assistant pastor at King’s Cross Church, located in Flushing, Queens. He lives with his amazing wife, Amy.






Dr. Jaimie D. Crumley (she, her) is an Assistant Professor in the Gender Studies and Ethnic Studies Divisions with the School for Cultural & Social Transformation at the University of Utah and the 2022-2023 Research Fellow at Old North Illuminated in Boston, Massachusetts. Dr. Crumley is currently engaged in two research projects. The first is a study of the people of African and Indigenous descent who participated in the religious, social, and cultural life at Christ Church in Boston (more commonly known as the Old North Church) from 1723-1860. She argues that African and Indigenous peoples’ engagement with the rituals of Episcopal Old North produced trans-Atlantic ideologies of race, gender, and sexuality that inform contemporary ideologies of the same. Dr. Crumley has documented her research in the video series, Illuminating the Unseen, produced by Old North IlluminatedDr. Crumley’s second research project is her first scholarly monograph, “We Will Live: Black Christian Feminists in the Age of Revolutions.” “We Will Live” is about New England’s Black women abolitionists, theologians, sisters, and friends from roughly 1770-1870. It argues that Black New England women remade Christian theology to articulate their desire to abolish slavery, sexism, and racism. In the face of rampant white supremacist violence, Black women who lived in New England during the Age of Revolutions used their intellect and their close relationships with each other to defend their lives. In 2023, “We Will Live” received support from the University of Utah School for Cultural & Social Transformation’s Mellon-funded Transformative Intersectional Collective. Dr. Crumley earned her PhD in Gender Studies at UCLA, her M.Div. and STM at Yale Divinity School, and her BA at Wellesley College.


A’Dorian Murray-Thomas is the Founder & CEO of SHE Wins Inc., a leadership and mentoring organization for girls affected by gun violence. Born and raised in the city of Newark, New Jersey, A’Dorian made history when at 23 years old, she became the youngest woman ever elected to the Newark Board of Education, representing the largest school district in the state of New Jersey, a role to which she was recently re-elected. Passionate about the intersections between education, youth development, and theology, A’Dorian is a candidate for a Master of Divinity concentrating in Social Ethics at Union Theological Seminary in New York City.




Rev. Carla Jones Brown earned a Bachelor of Arts Degree in English and Africana Studies and a Masters Degree in English Education from Rutgers University in New Brunswick, NJ. She is also a graduate of Princeton Theological Seminary where she earned a Master of Divinity Degree. She received the Edward Howell Roberts Scholarship in Preaching as a second year student and the David B. Watermulder Prize in Church Leadership as a senior. She is also a contributing author in a book entitled, This is My Story, a collection of essays and sermons written by African American female preachers which was edited by Dr. Cleophus J. LaRue. (Westminster John Knox Publishing 2005.) She has been called to serve Arch Street Presbyterian Church in Philadelphia as the first Woman and the first African American Senior Pastor/Head of Staff in the church’s history. Licensed to preach by the Seacoast Baptist Association in New Jersey on December 23, 2001 and ordained into the ‘work of the gospel ministry’ on January 30, 2005, Rev. Jones Brown now belongs to the Philadelphia Presbytery as a member with voice and vote and has served the denomination as a commissioner for the 225th General Assembly.

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