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Scholars to examine the life and work of James Cone, founder of black theology

Eddie Glaude Jr. and Melissa Harris-Perry to keynote Cone conference

archival photo of James Cone
The late James Hal Cone was the founder of black theology and a graduate of Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary and Northwestern University.

The late James Hal Cone was the founder of black theology and a graduate of Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary and Northwestern University. Fifty years after the publication of his seminal text, “Black Theology and Black Power,” the University’s department of religious studies will host a two-day conference to examine his body of work within the humanities and black critical thought.

Black Theology and Black Power: A Conference Exploring the Legacy of James Cone will be held Nov. 1-2 in Hardin Hall in the Rebecca Crown Center, 633 Clark Street, and Harris Hall, 1881 Sheridan Road on the University’s Evanston campus. The event is free and open to the public. Registration is required. 

Scholars in religion, theology, black diaspora studies, political science, history, literature, gender and sexuality studies, along with artists, will share the impact of Cone’s work on the world.  

Panels and workshops include “James Cone and the Expressive Arts”; “Cone and Gender and Sexuality”; “The Political and Black Theology”; and more. View complete schedule

Eddie S. Glaude Jr., James S. McDonnell Distinguished University Professor and chair of the department of African American studies, Princeton University, and Melissa Harris-Perry, the Maya Angelou Presidential Chair, Wake Forest University, will be the keynote speakers on Nov. 1 at 5 p.m. and Nov. 2 at 4:45 p.m. respectively. 

“James Cone represents the best in the scholarly ideal,” said Northwestern Provost Jonathan Holloway. “He lived a life of purpose, helped us see the potential of a theology dedicated to social justice and liberation, and was unapologetic in recognizing the humanity of the oppressed. Cone was a giant, and we are all lucky that we can stand on his shoulders today.”

The conference will conclude with a 7 p.m. concert at Cahn Auditorium, 600 Emerson Street, on the University’s Evanston campus. The concert will feature the Trinity United Church of Christ Choir, the James Austin Jazz Quartet, gospel vocalist Kim McFarland, hip hop artist Sir The Baptist, and blues band Rev. Sekou and the Freedom Fighters. The concert is free and open to the public.

“In ‘Black Theology and Black Power,’ James Cone singlehandedly revolutionized theology in the United States,” said Cristina Traina, chair of religious studies at Northwestern. “It’s an honor for Northwestern and Garrett to explore the ongoing global impact of our prominent alumnus.”

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