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Wallace Best, Ph.D.
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Wallace Best is Professor of Religion at Princeton University. He specializes in 19th- and 20th-century African-American religious history. His research and teaching focus on the areas of African-American religion, religion and literature, Pentecostalism, and Womanist theology. He has held fellowships at Princeton's Center for the Study of Religion and the W. E. B. Du Bois Institute at Harvard University. Best received his Ph.D. from Northwestern University.

Entries by Wallace Best, Ph.D.

The Fear of Black Bodies in Motion

(2) Comments | Posted December 4, 2014 | 9:26 AM

Darren Wilson killed Michael Brown because he was black. After months of investigation, many inquiries, protests, much social commentary, and a non-indictment, this seems indisputable. And Wilson's own grand jury testimony corroborates it. Even though the white St. Louis police officer is just as tall as Michael Brown's 6 foot...

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In the Footsteps of James Baldwin and Michael Brown

(0) Comments | Posted September 2, 2014 | 3:17 PM

On a recent trip to Paris, I felt compelled to trace the footsteps of the novelist James Baldwin. I wanted to walk where Baldwin walked on the Left Bank of that great city. To see Café de Flore, where he bussed tables and wrote in his spare time. I wanted...

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Who Would Jesus Stone?

(31) Comments | Posted March 16, 2014 | 2:42 PM

The Rev. James Manning wants to stone all homosexuals. The pastor of Atlah Missionary Baptist Church in Harlem said as much in a recent YouTube video, where he called upon his fellow Christians to take up stones against gays or be guilty of "advocating lawlessness." It is the law, he...

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The Zimmerman Verdict and the Black Religious Left

(125) Comments | Posted July 29, 2013 | 3:01 PM

Unlike many of my African American brothers and sisters, I did not attend church (with or without my "hoodie") the day after the Zimmerman verdict. Although I admit that I'm not a regular church attender anyway, something about that rush of black people to the church altar after yet another...

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Gays, God and Gospel Music

(839) Comments | Posted May 25, 2013 | 7:28 AM

Without the artistic and emotional contributions of gay people there would be no gospel music. Throughout the middle decades of the 20th century, a significant number of gay or "queer" artists left their mark on gospel music, a cultural form that many consider to be America's most original. Indeed, the...

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'Color' and Christ in America

(172) Comments | Posted November 28, 2012 | 11:48 AM

I will never forget the summer my grandmother, an evangelist in the Disciples of Christ denomination, came up from North Carolina to tell us the incredible story that she had recently "seen" Jesus.

All these years later what I remember most about that story is how she described Jesus:...

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Chick-fil-A and the Standard of Love

(234) Comments | Posted August 8, 2012 | 4:01 PM

When Natalie Maines of the Dixie Chicks criticized President Bush during a concert in London in 2003, the response was fast, furious and nasty. Maines announced from stage that she was "ashamed" that Bush was from her native Texas. She and her bandmates, Emily Robison and Martie Maguire, were quickly...

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In Spite of It All.. A Glorious Easter

(18) Comments | Posted April 9, 2012 | 10:38 AM

I went to church on Easter. This should not be remarkable news. After all, it was a beautiful day in New York City - and it was Easter. If there is a Sunday during the year when most Americans go to church, it is Easter. But what made it remarkable...

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The 10 Best Gospel Songs: The Soul Of American Music

(51) Comments | Posted February 13, 2012 | 5:44 AM

Gospel music is the most American of American music and the veritable soundtrack of black America. Born in the trauma of the 1930s, nurtured in the dramatic shifts of the 1940s and 50s, validated during the uncertainties of the 1960s and 70s, and complicated amid the technological advances of the...

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Politics and the Misuse of Langston Hughes

(11) Comments | Posted October 24, 2011 | 9:27 AM

When I was writing my first book on African American religion in Chicago, I rediscovered Langston Hughes. His vivid depictions of worship in the storefront churches he attended on the South Side in the early 1920s captured the ethos of those spaces and set the tone for the stories I...

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Gay Americans and American Freedom

(745) Comments | Posted August 15, 2011 | 1:19 PM

Left to their own devices, most Americans would turn gay. At least that is the impression one gets from the current anti-gay campaign waged by some social conservatives and the religious right. Anxiety about the spread of homosexuality and the propagation of a "gay agenda" is at the root of...

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Balancing the Sacred and Secular Along the Gospel Music Road

(15) Comments | Posted February 21, 2011 | 6:20 PM

It might seem surprising to many people, but the world of black gospel music has always been paradoxical. The genre emerged in Chicago during the Great Migration when Thomas Andrew Dorsey brought all of his experience as a former "bluesman" to bear on its development. Now considered the "father of...

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Lessons from the Rev. Eddie Long Scandal: Some Historical Context

(315) Comments | Posted October 2, 2010 | 8:29 AM

Public denunciations of homosexuality often mask private same-sex desire. Just ask Ted Haggart, Mark Foley, Larry Craig, Richard Curtis, and Ken Melman. So, I was not surprised when I learned that Bishop Eddie Long, the Georgia mega-church pastor now facing charges that he abused his "spiritual authority" to win sexual...

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