Jacquelyn Grant

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Jacquelyn Grant
Born (1948-12-19) December 19, 1948 (age 71)
Spouse(s)John Collier Jr. (died 2009)
Ecclesiastical career
ReligionChristianity (Methodist)
ChurchAfrican Methodist Episcopal Church
Academic background
Alma mater
ThesisThe Development and Limitations of Feminist Christology (1985)
Doctoral advisorJames H. Cone[1]
InfluencesBeverly Wildung Harrison[2]
Academic work
Sub-disciplineSystematic theology
School or traditionWomanist theology
InstitutionsInterdenominational Theological Center
Notable worksWhite Women's Christ and Black Women's Jesus (1989)

Jacquelyn Grant (born 1948) is an American theologian and Methodist minister who is one of the founding developers of womanist theology.[3] She is currently the Callaway Professor of Systematic Theology at the Interdenominational Theological Center in Atlanta. Grant has written the book White Women's Christ and Black Women's Jesus (1989).


Grant was born December 19, 1948, in Georgetown, South Carolina. She always had an interest in religion, attending Catholic school at a young age, and graduating from the local Howard High School in 1966. A graduate of Bennett College and Turner Theological Seminary, she became the first black woman to earn a doctoral degree in systematic theology at Union Theological Seminary.[citation needed]

There she created the thesis The development and limitations of feminist Christology : toward an engagement of white women's and black women's religious experiences NY under the tutelage of James H. Cone, who is known as the father of black theology. In 1977, Grant became involved with Harvard Divinity School's Women's Research Program and with her involvement, it led to the creation of the Women's Studies in Religion Program in which she remained for two years. Grant led efforts to join women in the fight for equality:

She spearheaded efforts to bring women together to address the role and equality of women with a position paper on the status of women written for the 1976 General Conference, convening a meeting of the female ministers at the General Conference to voice concerns about representation in the governing processes and ministry of the AMEC, and leading a delegation to take these concerns before the Council of Bishops in 1977 at Atlantic City, NJ.[4]

In 1981, she founded the Center for Black Women in Church and Society at the Interdenominational Theological Center in Atlanta in 1981, where she holds the title of Professor. She has been assistant minister at Flipper Temple African Methodist Episcopal Church from 1980 to 1982, and later the Victory African Methodist Episcopal Church in Atlanta.[5] She is now the Callaway Professor of Systematic Theology at the Interdenominational Theological Union in Atlanta.[4] She is widowed to the pastor John Collier Jr. and now resides in Atlanta.

Achievements and contributions[edit]

Grant is considered to be a Community Mother well known for her commitment to building stronger communities and churches. This is illustrated in Grant's founding of the Center for Black Women in Church and Society at the Interdenominational Theological Center (Atlanta, GA) in 1981. Through her Black Women in Ministerial Leadership Program, Grant continues to serve as director and professor mentoring numerous black women.[6] Through her wisdom, women of color are learning to harness their collective wisdom to build stronger families, communities, and churches that will influence future generations. Grant was featured as a contributor in the 1983 April issue of Ebony magazine to the article "School of Religion for Men Behind Bars" and to the article "Gifts of the Spirit" in the 1992 December issue.

Grant was the recipient of the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Ministry Award in 1986 and has been nominated as the Woman of the Year in Religion by the Iota Phi Lambda sorority. She has appeared in the Who's Who Among African Americans.[4] Grant currently has a research project that examines African-American understanding of the divine through black theology and black art.

As a womanist theologian[edit]

Theologian Jacquelyn Grant's scholarship "distinguishes between the remote and heavenly Christ worshipped in mainline white churches and the immanent and intimate Jesus whom black women recognize as their friend".[7] Grant illuminates how many black women share a commitment in using their faith to avoid construction of stereotypes. Grant also examines how black women are the vast majority of active participants in their churches and that their work tends to be undervalued.[8]

The professor and former pastor argues that women serving as activists for the black church are sometimes put into institutional categories for their political expression by the black church itself. Grant expounds on this and similar notions in her writings. She explains while it may sound like a compliment that black women are called the "backbone" of the church, in fact the author chides "the telling portion of the word backbone is 'back'. It has become apparent to me that most of the ministers who use this term have reference to location rather than function. What they really mean is that women are in the 'background' and should be kept there."[9]

Grant represents the first generation of womanist theologians. She differs from forerunners such as James H. Cone, whose work was seen as male-centered and devoid of sources that gave voice to the experiences of black women. Grant highlights this critique of Cone's work by pointing out that "Black women have been invisible in theology including black theology and feminist theology".[10] Grant also notably argues that the oppression of black women is different then that of black men. She also advances the idea that black women are more oppressed and ultimately need more liberation than white women and black men.

Grant and Cone's work served as foundational for scholar Delores S. Williams to respond to and expand upon. Williams produced a commonly -referenced definition of womanist theology. Williams concluded that

Womanist theology is a prophetic voice concerned about the well-being of the entire African American community, male and female, adults and children. Womanist theology attempts to help black women see, affirm, and have confidence in the importance of their experience and faith for determining the character of the Christian religion in the African American community. Womanist theology challenges all oppressive forces impeding black women's struggle for survival and for the development of a positive, productive quality of life conducive to women's and the family's freedom and well being. Womanist theology opposes all oppression based on race, sex, class, sexual preference, physical ability, and caste[11]

Book reception[edit]

Jacquelyn Grant is widely regarded as an important "womanist theologian". Her book White Women's Christ and Black Women's Jesus: Feminist Christology and Womanist Response was a best seller. The text is described as laying out the complex relationship between Christology and feminism. In it, Grant explores the central idea by giving voice to women other than those of European descent and putting them squarely into the equation. Through outliningthese relationships, Grant examines the intersecting concepts of Christology and womanist theology. As a result of exploring the two concepts together, Grants helps address the historical and modern-day experiences of black women.[7]

Grant's work in White Women's Christ and Black Women's Jesus: Feminist Christology and Womanist Response conveyed the "tri-dimensional reality render[ing Black women's] situation a complex one. One could say that not only are they the oppressed of the oppressed, but their situation represents the 'particular within the particular,'"[3] as author Joan M. Martin points out in The Notion of Difference for Emerging Women Ethics. By exploring the relationship between black women and Jesus as a "divine co-sufferer", Grant's contribution to womanist theology provides meaningful examples and a theoretical framework to fuel conversation and research on an assortment of topics dealing with black women's experiences.


  • White Women's Christ and Black Women's Jesus: Feminist Christology and Womanist Response (Atlanta, Ga.: Scholars Press, 1989. American Academy of Religion academy series).
  • (co-ed. with Randall C. Bailey) The Recovery of Black Presence: An Interdisciplinary Exploration : Essays in Honor of Dr. Charles B. Copher. Nashville: Abingdon Press, 1995.
  • Perspectives on Womanist Theology. Atlanta: ITC Press, 1995.
  • "Black women and the church" in Hull, Gloria T., Patricia Bell-Scott, and Barbara Smith (eds), All the Women Are White, All the Blacks Are Men, but Some of Us Are Brave: Black Women's Studies. Old Westbury, N.Y.: Feminist Press, 1982.
  • "The challenge of the darker sister" in Soskice, Janet Martin, and Diana Lipton. Feminism and Theology. New York: Oxford University Press, 2003.


  1. ^ Roberts, James Deotis (2004). "Black Theology". In Hillerbrand, Hans J. (ed.). The Encyclopedia of Protestantism. 1. New York: Routledge. p. 424. ISBN 978-0-203-48431-9. Retrieved March 11, 2019.CS1 maint: ref=harv (link)
  2. ^ Burrow, Rufus, Jr. (1999). "Toward Womanist Theology and Ethics". Journal of Feminist Studies in Religion. 15 (1): 88–89. ISSN 1553-3913. JSTOR 25002353.
  3. ^ a b Joan M. Martin, "The Notion of Difference for Emerging Women Ethics."
  4. ^ a b c Profiles of Pioneering AME Women in Ministry - Rev. Sandra Smith Blair.
  5. ^ The History makers
  6. ^ "Office of Black Women in Church & Society". Archived from the original on 2012-02-03. Retrieved 2012-12-13.
  7. ^ a b Grant, J. (1989). White Women's Christ and Black Women's Jesus: Feminist Christology and Womanist Response. Atlanta, Ga.: Scholars Press.
  8. ^ Jacquelyn Grant, Black Theology and the Black Women, (NY: Orbis Books, 1993), 325.
  9. ^ Jacquelyn Grant, Black Theology and the Black Women, (NY: Orbis Books, 1993), 325.
  10. ^ Jacquelyn Grant, "Black Theology and the Black Women," in James H. Cone and Gayraud S. Wilmore ed., Black Theology: A Documentary History, Volume I, 1996-1979, (NY: Orbis Books, 1993), 326.
  11. ^ Dolores S. Williams, Sisters in the Wilderness (Orbis Books, September 1995), 67.

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