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!
I 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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
First things first, to quote the mighty Mos Def: “Stop with the nonsense!” I’ve written a lot in the week or so since the white supremacist rally and consequent violence in Charlottesville. Some of that writing now appears on NYU Press’s blog From the Square. Check it out and thanks for reading.
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.
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
Coming soon to an Amazon.com near you! My forthcoming book on the rise of Black Catholicism in Chicago from the Great Migrations to Black Power is due out from NYU Press this November. It has a cover! It has a website! And you can read more about it at nyupress.org! (Can you tell I’m excited?!)
In which I make my white Catholic case for reparations on Slate.com. This is a revised version of the lecture I gave at St. Bonaventure University last year for Francis Week, which you can watch on YouTube if you’re so inclined.
Check out my latest blogpost for Religion in American History, where I write on religion, violence, and memorialization. The post introduces an incredible digital archive of tributes to Mother Emanuel Church and the nine women and men murdered nearly one year ago.