Panel Four: Mapping Terrains of Research: Black Liberation Theology in the Fields of Black Studies

The Center of African American Rhetoric and Public Address at the National Council of Black Studies

Day: Saturday, March 14, 2020

Place: Place: Marriott Buckhead Hotel and Conference Center, Floor: Atrium Level, Dahlonega

*To see the other panels, click here

Panel Four: 4:30pm to 5:45pm

Title: Mapping Terrains of Research: Black Liberation Theology in the Fields of Black Studies

Abstract: The field of Black Studies has grown exponentially over the last few decades. Scholarship in the field has emerged as being the visionary vanguard of the humanities and social sciences. Scholars have robust debates concerning intellectual histories and Black Power and the work in Digital Humanities seems promising. Yet, for all of its growth and innovation in Black Studies the most popular textbooks, classroom teaching, and the dominant narratives in these fields often exclude any or all discussion of Black Liberation Theology. 

For example, outside of the field of Religious Studies, James H. Cone and Black Liberation Theology are blatantly absent from secular scholarship discussing the history of the independent Black church and how it relates to the African American experience. Moreover, despite the generative work of Black Feminist historians, another strand of Black liberation theology, Womanist theology is also scant. Therefore, panelists on this roundtable will discuss this exclusion in hopes of sparking a larger discourse about the future of the fields. In addition, we will also discuss how we teach and construct Black Studies textbooks and create pedagogical methods for students in our classrooms.

Chair: Andre E. Johnson, University of Memphis

Andre E. Johnson is an Associate Professor of Rhetoric and Media Studies in the Department of Communication and Film at the University of Memphis. He teaches classes in African American Public Address, Rhetoric, Race, Religion, and Interracial Communication. Dr. Johnson is the author of “The Forgotten Prophet: Bishop Henry McNeal Turner and the African American Prophetic Tradition (Lexington Books, 2012) and the co-author (with Amanda Nell Edgar, PhD.) of “The Struggle Over Black Lives Matter and All Lives Matter” (Lexington Books, 2018). He is also the author of the forthcoming “No Future in this Country: The Prophetic Pessimism of Bishop Henry McNeal Turner with the University Press of Mississippi.

Le'Trice Donaldson, University of Wisconsin-Stout

Le'Trice Donaldson is an Assistant Professor of History in the Department of Arts, Communication, Humanities, and Social Sciences at the University of Wisconsin-Stout. She is the author of "Duty beyond the Battlefield: African American Soldiers Fight for Racial Uplift, Citizenship, and Manhood, 1870–1920." 

Earle J. Fisher, Memphis Theological Seminary

Rev. Dr. Earle J. Fisher is a native of Benton Harbor, Michigan. This preacher, professor, writer, and social advocate graduated from Benton Harbor High School in 1996, earned an Associate Degree in Liberal Arts in 1999 from Lake Michigan College, a Bachelor’s of Science Degree in Computer Science in 2003 from LeMoyne-Owen College and a Masters of Divinity Degree in 2008 from Memphis Theological Seminary. Rev. Fisher is a dually ordained minister in the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) and Missionary Baptist Church denominations.

Dr. Fisher received his Ph.D. in Communication from the University of Memphis in 2018. Professor Fisher serves as an Adjunct Instructor of Religion and Humanities at several local colleges and universities. Pastor Earle is also the Senior Pastor of Abyssinian Baptist Church in Memphis, TN, and founder of #UPTheVote901 – a nonpartisan initiative that gives more political power to more people and pushes to increase voter turnout in Memphis and Shelby County. Most of Dr. Fisher’s research focuses on the intersections of rhetoric, race, and religion with an emphasis on prophetic rhetoric and the personality Albert Cleage, Jr.

Annette Madlock Gatison, Independent Scholar

Sister Circle Writers Founder Dr. A. Madlock Gatison is an independent scholar and university professor. Gatison completed her doctoral work in Rhetoric and Culture at Howard University. She is an award-winning author with over 40 publications and over 45 national and international professional presentations and workshops. Dr. Gatison’s notable books include Health Communication and Breast Cancer Among Black Women: Culture, Identity, Spirituality, and Strength (Lexington Books) and Communicating Women's Health: Social and Cultural Norms that Influence Health Decisions (Routledge). Her forthcoming work for 2020 includes Womanist Ethical Rhetoric: A Call for Liberation and Social Justice in Turbulent Times (Lexington Books), the Journal of Communication and Religion Special Issue: A Womanist Rhetorical Vision for Building the Beloved Community, where she serves as Guest Editor, and The Power of “RE”: An Inspirational Guide on How to REdo, REvise, and REsubmit for those Second Chances in Life (Creative Legacy Books). In her spare time, she loves to travel and spend time with family and friends.

Michelle E. Shaw, Northwestern University

Michelle E. Shaw is a fifth-year Ph.D. student in Rhetoric and Public Culture. She earned her BA in Mass Media Arts from Clark Atlanta University, and while working as a full-time journalist for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, she earned a Master of Divinity degree from the Interdenominational Theological Center. She later earned a Master of Theology degree from Emory University’s Candler School of Theology. Before returning to the classroom to pursue her graduate education, she wrote for several newspapers in the South and Southeast over the course of 15 years. She is currently interested in how rhetoric factors into the preaching moment, specifically when the orator is a woman, within predominately Black churches.

Kyle Brooks, Methodist Theological School in Ohio

Kyle Brooks is a Louisville Institute Postdoctoral Fellow. He is currently serving as the Visiting Assistant Professor of Homiletics and Black Church and African Diaspora Studies at Methodist Theological School in Ohio.