BYU’s 3rd Annual Richard L. Evans Memorial Lecture will soon be upon us! On Thursday, Sept 15 at 7:30, on what should be a lovely September evening, Dr. Yolanda Pierce, Dean of the Howard University Divinity School, will deliver her lecture titled “Cradle and Cauldron: Early Black American Religion and Interfaith Possibilities.” In addition to providing a vital Black American perspective on interfaith relations both historically and at present, Dr. Pierce’s campus visit has been planned in support of BYU’s “Race, Equity, and Belonging” vision and initiatives. To that end, earlier in the day she will hold an informal Q&A with students and will have a private meeting with recently-appointed BYU Vice President for Belonging, Dr. Carl Hernandez.
Dr. Pierce is a scholar, writer, and public theologian. She currently serves as Professor and Dean of the Howard University School of Divinity in Washington, DC. In 2016, Pierce was appointed as the Founding Director of the Center for African American Religious Life at the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture (NMAAHC). Previously, she served as the Founding Director of the Center for Black Church Studies and Associate Professor of Religion and Literature at Princeton Theological Seminary.
As a first-generation college student, Pierce earned degrees from Cornell University and Princeton University. Her research specialties include Literature & Religion; Womanist Theology; and African
American Religions. A widely-published author, Pierce has written several books, essays, and articles for academic and trade journals including: Time Magazine, Theology Today, and Christianity & Literature. Her newest book is In My Grandmother’s House: Black Women, Faith, and the Stories We Inherit and she is currently a columnist for The Christian Century.
Pierce is the creator and curator of “Touching the Sacred,” an exhibit on material religion and the Black Church. She is a member of various professional organizations, including the Modern Language Association, the American Academy of Religion, and the American Historical Association. Pierce has also been the recipient of numerous honors and awards, including fellowships from the Ford Foundation, the Mellon Foundation, and the Pew Foundation. In addition to her teaching and academic scholarship, Pierce is a native New Yorker, mentor, community activist, ordained minister, daughter of the Black Church, and proud member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, founded in 1908 on the campus of Howard University (it is the oldest Greek-letter organization established by African American college-educated women).