It’s a Big Day for Our Canon Theologian, Kelly Brown Douglas
It's been called the Nobel Prize of religion awards, and this year's winner of the Grawemeyer Award is our very own Canon Theologian, the Rev. Canon Kelly Brown Douglas.
The $100,000 award, announced in December, is given to scholars and preachers who have an outsized impact on our understanding of religion. Naturally, we’re a little biased, but we think Kelly is the perfect choice for this year’s award.
The prize is bestowed by the University of Louisville and Louisville Seminary. Previous winners include Kelly’s mentor, James Cone (the godfather of Black liberation theology); pollster and research Robert P. Jones; New Testament Scholar Luke Timothy Johnson; “Gilead” author Marilynne Robinson; and former Chief Rabbi of Britain Jonathan Sacks, among many others.
From the Cathedral press release last December:
“When Kelly speaks, people listen,” said Dean Hollerith. “Hers is one of the most impactful voices in the church today, and this award is a long-overdue recognition of her many gifts. God has graced this Cathedral with her presence and moral witness, and we are blessed to share her with the world.”
Douglas, who is also the dean of Episcopal Divinity School at Union Theological Seminary in New York City, is one of the first Black female Episcopal priests in the United States and the first Black person to head an Episcopal Church-affiliated educational institution.
In “Resurrection Hope,” she shows how a “White way of knowing” came to dominate America through an anti-Black narrative tracing back to the Greek philosopher Aristotle. She also cites examples of how the bias persists today, from the refusal to dismantle Confederate monuments to attempts to discredit The 1619 Project, an effort to reframe U.S. history starting from the year the first enslaved Africans arrived in Virginia.
While recognizing the prolonged suffering of Black people raises deep questions about the credibility of Christianity, she argues that faith, not despair, is the best hope for assuring Black lives are valued.
From all of us here at the Cathedral, congratulations, Kelly!