almeda-wright-story.pngCandler’s Black Church Studies program will welcome Almeda M. Wright 10G, associate professor of religious education at Yale Divinity School, to present the 2022 Anna Julia Cooper Lecture. The annual event will take place online on Thursday, March 3 from 4:00–6:00 p.m. EST.

Titled “‘Sketches from a Teacher’s Notebook’: Black Religion, Education, and Radical Social Change,” Wright’s lecture is inspired by Cooper’s 1923 essay “Sketches from a Teacher’s Notebook,” and will explore the work of African American religious activist-educators.

Prior to her arrival at Yale, Wright served for four years as assistant professor of religion and youth ministry at Pfeiffer University, and before that as a visiting faculty member and teaching assistant at Candler—where she also served as program director of the Wisdom of Youth Project and in various positions with the Youth Theological Initiative.

Wright’s research focuses on African American religion, Womanist spirituality, adolescent spiritual development, and the intersections of religion and public life. Among other publications, she is the author of The Spiritual Lives of Young African Americans (Oxford University Press, 2017), co-editor of Children, Youth, and Spirituality in a Troubling World (Chalice Press, 2008), and has contributed to several edited volumes, including Albert Cleage, Jr. and the Black Madonna and Child (Palgrave, 2016); Faith Forward: A Dialogue on Children, Youth and a New Kind of Christianity (Woodlake, 2013); and Adoptive Youth Ministry (Baker Academic, 2016). She also penned introductory essays for the Common English Bible Student Bible (Common English Bible, 2015).

Wright has lectured and presented widely—including at the University of Vienna’s Religions@School Conference, the Trinity Wall Street Institute, the Faith Forward conferences, the American Academy of Religion annual meeting, the Society of Childhood and Spirituality—and delivered the 2019 Princeton Lectures on Youth, Church and Culture. Her research has been supported by the John Templeton Foundation, the Wabash Center for Teaching and Learning, the Fund for Theological Education (now the Forum for Theological Exploration), and Louisville Institute.

Wright holds her MA in teaching from Simmons College, her MDiv from Harvard University Divinity School, and her PhD from Emory University. She is an ordained minister of the American Baptist Churches and has served on the ministerial staff of various churches, including Union Baptist Church in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and Victory United Church of Christ in Stone Mountain, Georgia.

During the 2021-2022 academic year, Black Church Studies at Candler is exploring the theme “The State of Black Religion and the Future of the Black Church,” which also considers the Black church as an educational institution.

This annual lecture of Candler’s Black Church Studies Program is named for Anna Julia Cooper, one of the most influential Black scholars of the 19th and 20th centuries. Born into slavery in 1858, Cooper graduated from Oberlin College and the Sorbonne, becoming the fourth African American woman in the U.S. to earn a PhD. She served as a public school teacher and principal in Washington, D.C. for more than 30 years, and remained a prominent educator, activist, and author until her death at age 105.