The Henry Luce Foundation is proud to support “The Crossroads Project,” a new initiative at Princeton University’s Center for the Study of Religion. This multi-institutional collaboration—with partners at the University of Pennsylvania and Washington University in St. Louis—will examine the role of Black religions in American culture, highlight the diversity of Black religious life, and enhance public understanding of Black religious histories, cultures, and communities. The project will support work by scholars, teachers, religious and civic leaders, community organizations, and artists and will develop a digital platform to make their work available to interested publics.
“In naming it The Crossroads Project, we wanted to highlight how Black religious studies sits at the crossroads of many scholarly fields,” project co-director Judith Weisenfeld said, “and to explore how building on these intersections can be fruitful for promoting greater public understanding of the significance of religion in African American life and Black religions in American history and life.”
What role has religion played in shaping African American history, culture, economics, politics, and social life and how have Black religions contributed to American life and culture? What impact have migration, immigration, and transnational engagements had on African American religious life? How have Black religious leaders and communities responded to COVID-19, to climate and environmental crises, and to struggles for racial justice?
Funded with a $1 million grant from the Henry Luce Foundation “The Crossroads Project” will advance public understanding of the history, politics, and cultures of African American religions, exploring these questions and aims to highlight the diversity of traditions in Black religious life, past and present. Led by Professor Judith Weisenfeld, Agate Brown and George L. Collord Professor and Chair of Princeton’s Department of Religion, along with Anthea D. Butler, Associate Professor of Religion at the University of Pennsylvania and Lerone A. Martin, Associate Professor of Religion and Politics at Washington University in St. Louis, the four-year, multi-institution project will provide funding for projects by scholars, teachers, religious and civic leaders, community organizations, and artists. These research, teaching, community, and arts fellows will make original contributions that will enhance the public understanding of Black religious histories, cultures, and communities.
A major part of the project will be the development of a digital platform showcasing the work of project fellows that will allow students, teachers, and interested publics to engage materials interpreting Black religious histories, communities, and cultures and their place in American history and life. In addition to the grants to develop projects for the digital platform, other initiatives of “The Crossroads Project” include public events, a research working group that brings together scholars from across the country, a mentoring program for graduate students and early-career scholars, and a postdoctoral fellowship that will bring an early-career scholar to Princeton to develop their own research and contribute to the project.