Winner of the 2017 Albert J. Raboteau Book Prize for the Best Book in Africana Religions
Focusing on the Moorish Science Temple, the Nation of Islam, Father Divine’s Peace Mission Movement, and a number of congregations of Ethiopian Hebrews, Judith Weisenfeld argues that the appeal of these groups lay not only in the new religious opportunities membership provided, but also in the novel ways they formulated a religio-racial identity. Arguing that members of these groups understood their religious and racial identities as divinely-ordained and inseparable, the book examines how this sense of self shaped their conceptions of their bodies, families, religious and social communities, space and place, and political sensibilities.
Instructor’s Guide for New World A-Coming
African American Review (Summer 2018)
Journal of American History (June 2018)
Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion (June 2018)
Journal of Southern Religion (2018)
Church History (March 2018)
American Historical Review (February 2018)
Journal of the American Academy of Religion (September 2017)
Reading Religion (July 2017)
Publishers Weekly (February 2017)
From the earliest years of sound film in America, Hollywood studios and independent producers of “race films” for black audiences created stories featuring African American religious practices. In the first book to examine how the movies constructed images of African American religion, Judith Weisenfeld explores these cinematic representations and how they reflected and contributed to complicated discourses about race, the social and moral requirements of American citizenship, and the very nature of American identity.
The middle class black women who people Judith Weisenfeld’s history were committed both to social action and to institutional expression of their religious convictions. Their story provides an illuminating perspective on the varied forces working to improve quality of life for African Americans in crucial times. When undertaking to help young women migrating to and living alone in New York, Weisenfeld’s protagonists chose to work within a national evangelical institution. Their organization of a black chapter of the Young Women’s Christian Association in 1905 was a clear step toward establishing a suitable environment for young working women; it was also an expression of their philosophy of social uplift. And predictably it was the beginning of an equal rights struggle–to work as equals with white women activists. Growing and adapting as New York’s black community evolved over the decades, the black YWCA assumed a central role both in the community’s religious life and as a training ground for social action.
The History of the Riverside Church in the City of New York (New York University Press, 2004) Co-authored with Peter J. Paris, James Hudnut-Beumler, John W. Cook, and Nora Tubbs Tisdale
This Far By Faith: Readings in African American Women’s Religious Biography (Routledge, 1996) Co-edited with Richard Newman