Interview in The Atlantic

When I tell people that I study black Catholics, most kind of blink their eyes and go, “What?” We assume Catholicism is European in its essence, and that black people are Protestants. But the majority of black Christians in the Western hemisphere are actually Catholic, and the majority of Catholics in the Western hemisphere and the Americas are not white.

A few weeks ago I had the pleasure of chatting with Emma Green of The Atlantic about my book and the history of Black Catholics in the United States. Check it out!

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Authentically Black and Truly Catholic

IMG_3406I am excited to say that my first book, Authentically Black and Truly Catholic: The Rise of Black Catholicism in the Great Migrations (NYU Press, 2017), is officially out in the world. It’s a real book!!! You can purchase it at nyupress.com and preorder it on Amazon.com (ships November 14). This is the culmination of the better part of a decade’s worth of reading, research, writing, and revising. But it started in conversations with Black Catholic Chicagoans themselves. And so, it is dedicated to all the Black people who made and continue to make Catholic Chicago. If you get a chance to read it, I hope you enjoy it, I hope you learn something, and please, let me know what you think. You can reach me, as always, on Twitter @mjcressler or by email at cresslermj@cofc.edu.

Crossing Faith & Color Lines in the South

This May I had the opportunity to teach a course unlike any I’ve taught before: Interfaith Atlanta Across the Color Line (RELS 298). 1) It was a Maymester course (a semester condensed into a little over two weeks), making each day effectively a week of class. 2) It was a study away course, so we spent one week in a traditional classroom setting (albeit one that met 3.5 hours-a-day Monday-Friday) and one week learning through a variety of activities outside the classroom. 3) It was a course with an explicitly Southern emphasis, designed to explore the intersection of religion and race in and around Atlanta, GA.

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Me with Julia, Mona, Tanner, Kristen, and Iman at the Center for Civil and Human Rights

And for all those reasons, plus (read: most importantly) an incredible group of com/passionate and hilarious students, this class was and undoubtedly will remain one of the best teaching experiences of my life.  Continue reading