Judith Weisenfeld is the Agate Brown and George L. Collord Professor of Religion at Princeton University. Her research focuses on African American religious history, with particular interest in migration and urbanization, film and popular culture, gender and sexuality, new religious movements, and the intersections of religion and race. Her books include New World a Coming: Black Religion and Racial Identity during the Great Migration (2016), which won the 2017 Albert J. Raboteau Prize for the Best Book in Africana Religions, Hollywood Be Thy Name: African American Religion in American Film, 1929–1949 (2007), and African American Women and Christian Activism: New York's Black YWCA, 1905–1945 (1997). Her essays have been published in the Journal of Africana Religions, the Journal of the American Academy of Religion, American Religion, and Religion & American Culture, among others. Her current research explores the intersections of psychiatry and African American religions in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. She is an elected member of the Society of American Historians and an elected fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.
Focusing on the Moorish Science Temple, Father Divine's Peace Mission movement, congregations of Ethiopian Hebrews, and the Nation of Islam, the lecture explores how members promoted alternative understandings of black racial identity and collective history to the dominant narratives provided by mainstream black Protestant churches and in broader American society. Highlighting the experiences of average members in what Weisenfeld terms religio-racial movements, the talk explores the rich and complex religious systems that shaped members’ everyday lives and influenced black culture at large.