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Renowned Ethicist Gary Dorrien Wins 2017 Grawemeyer Award In Religion

Robin Holland

Gary Dorrien has been described by philosopher Cornel West as “the preeminent social ethicist in North America.”

Dorrien is an Episcopal priest, a professor of religion at Columbia University and is the winner of the 2017 Grawemeyer Award in Religion for his book, “The New Abolition: W. E. B. DuBois and the Black Social Gospel.”

I spoke with Dorrien about the book and the beginning of the Civil Rights Movement. Listen to our conversation in the player above.

On the beginning of the Black Social Gospel: 

“I think it’s best to actually speak of a black freedom movement that is organizing in something like Civil Rights Movement faction as early as the mid-1880s and is working on quite familiar issues. Dealing with the laws of the fourteenth and fifteenth amendments in much of the country and Jim Crow and lynching, and so on."

On how the Black Social Gospel finally garnered long overdue attention:

“It took the coming of more and more African-Americans into the academy in the last 20 years to even give some sort of platform to amplify the fact that this is just a wrong way and always was a wrong way of talking about the social gospel. To talk about it as if it was just a white phenomenon.”

Bill Burton is the Morning Edition host for LPM. Email Bill at bburton@lpm.org.

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