Antoinette Brown Lecture
Vanderbilt University Divinity School announces the 43rd annual
A N T O I N E T T E B R O W N L E C T U R E
to be delivered by
Eboni Marshall Turman
Assistant Professor of Theology and African American Religion
Yale University Divinity School
Thursday, March 23, 2017
Vanderbilt University Divinity School
Facing Pecola: Toward a Womanist Soteriologic of Black Girl Disrespectability
The lecture begins with an examination of the textures of black girls’ social and moral crucifixion by focusing on their respective criminalization and demonization at the hands of anti-black state-sanctioned and anti-black church-sanctioned gender terror. An exploration of the nature of suffering in the lives of black girls will follow and assert black girlhood as a theological problem to which the Black Church must be held accountable. The constructive edge of the talk finally contends that the disrespectability typically attributed to black girls in church and society is in fact a response-able and deeply embodied soteriologic. It argues that black girl disrespectability functions as its own enfleshment of a salvific logos, that is, a black girls’ Rock, toward the end of redemptive self-love.
The Reverend Eboni Marshall Turman, Ph.D.’s life and ministry is propelled by Luke 1:45, “And blessed is she that believed: for there shall be a performance of those things which were told her from the Lord.”
Dr. Turman is Assistant Professor of Theology and African American Religion at Yale University Divinity School in New Haven, CT. She formerly served as Assistant Research Professor of Theological Ethics, Black Church Studies, and African & African American Studies and Director of the Office of Black Church Studies at Duke University Divinity School.
An author, ordained minister, professor, and public theologian, the Reverend Dr. Marshall Turman is a refreshing addition to our most pressing national discussions of faith, race and gender. With a decidedly womanist point of view, hers stands out as one of very few scholarly millennial voices offering moral perspective on issues facing the Black community.
At a time in our history when the Black church and Black lives are once again under constant siege, Dr. Turman has committed her research, scholarship and platform to a nuanced exploration of the most marginalized among us.
A trailblazer in the church and academy, her pioneering spirit has earned her many rare distinctions. She is the youngest woman to be named Assistant Minister of the historic Abyssinian Baptist Church in New York City where she served for ten years, and the second woman to preside over the ordinances in its 209-year history; she is the only womanist theological ethicist on the faculty at Yale University’s Divinity School; one of Ebony Magazine’s Young Faith Leaders in the Black Community; included on the Network Journal’s prestigious 40 Under 40 List; and recently named as one of the “Top 5 Young Preachers in America” by ROHO.
A highly sought after speaker and thinker, Dr. Turman has shared her ideas at Fordham University, Candler School of Theology at Emory University, McCormick Theological Seminary, Union Theological Seminary, and regularly from pulpits around the world. In 2014, Dr. Turman was inducted into the Morehouse College Martin Luther King, Jr. Collegium of Scholars. Her opinions on race, faith, and gender have been published by the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, the Huffington Post, and Dallas Morning News among others.
Tackling the taboo topic of sexism in the Black Church, Dr. Turman owns her millennial sensibility and is unflinchingly honest in her critique of our most revered institutions. She dispels the notion of “a woman’s place” in church and society. Building upon the literary, intellectual, activist foundations of Alice Walker, W.E.B DuBois, and Ida B. Wells-Barnett in 2013 Dr. Turman published her seminal work Toward a Womanist Ethic of Incarnation: Black Bodies, the Black Church and the Council of Chalcedon. The first womanist book-length treatment of conciliar tradition in relationship to black Christian life, in it she explores the sexism that pervades the black church and chips away at the moral justification for black women’s social subordination.
She is currently working on her second book tentatively titled, Black Women’s Burden: Sexism, Sacred Witness, and Transforming the Moral Life of the Black Church. Through her research and scholarship, Dr. Turman is transforming the way we frame the Black experience, the contemporary movement for Black lives, and the moral significance of the Black community specifically the 21st century black church.
Beyond academia, Dr. Turman is passionate about helping Black women rise above and function through systemic gender bias, racism and exploitation. She offers women tools for vocational, professional, and personal success, empowering them to step into leadership and assert themselves more fully in male dominant environments. As a justice advocate, Dr. Turman challenges how the Black community is represented and engaged in the public square. As a gifted teacher, she empowers Black people from the heart and shows them how to interpret Christian teachings to transform their lives, change their communities, and create healthier relationships, brighter leadership prospects and personal fulfillment.
Dr. Turman’s unapologetic passion for the Black community is perhaps only matched by her passion for young minds. As the face of womanist theological ethics at Yale University Divinity School, she is pushing the boundaries of theological scholarship, while training the next generation of moral leaders and expanding their vision for what is possible in church and society.
Dr. Turman earned her B.A. degree in Philosophy from Fordham University; her Master of Divinity, Master of Philosophy and Doctor of Philosophy degrees in Social Ethics from Union Theological Seminary in the City of New York. She and her wonderful spouse, Rossie E. Turman III, Esq., live in both New York City and New Haven, CT.