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  • Wednesday, February 17, 2016
  • 3:30 PM–4:30 PM
  • Meeter Center Lecture Hall

This discussion begins with the theologian and mystic Howard Thurman’s 1945 publication of The Negro Spiritual Speaks of Life and Death, a substantial body of writings by African Americans on faith and alienation from religious faith.

This inner history, a term borrowed from the religious studies scholar Robert Orsi to describe the lived religious experience of Italian immigrants in the first half of the twentieth century in Harlem, New York, is to be found in the published works of African-American entertainers, athletes, and activists who have successfully published memoirs in post-WWII American life. In describing how these performers described their inner lives, this lecture argues that Americans can learns something important about the shaping of the individual self and what it means to live collectively in democratic societies.

Randal Jelks is professor of African and African-American Studies and professor of American Studies at the University of Kansas. He is also an ordained clergy person in the Presbyterian Church (USA). Before joining the faculty of the University of Kansas, Dr. Jelks taught at Calvin College. His research and writing interests are in the areas of African American religious history, the African Diaspora, urban, and Civil Rights history. His award-winning books include African Americans in the Furniture City: the Civil Rights Struggle in Grand Rapids, Michigan and Schoolmaster of the Movement, a biography of Martin Luther King Jr's mentor Benjamin Elijah Mays.

February 2016
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