Religious historian Eddie S. Glaude Jr., professor at Princeton University (USA), will receive the James W.C. Pennington Award of Heidelberg University on 19 June 2018. The award honours one of the leading experts in African-American religious history who also deals with African American Studies in general. The award, presented by the Heidelberg Center for American Studies (HCA) and the Faculty of Theology, commemorates American minister and former slave James W.C. Pennington. In 1849 he received an honorary doctorate from Ruperto Carola and thus became the first African American to be bestowed the title by a European university.
Jan Stievermann, who holds the chair for the History of Christianity in the United States at the HCA, points out that Glaude’s research also addresses the civil rights movement and the so-called Black Nationalism as well as current American politics. Prof. Glaude frequently and widely engages in the public debate on these issues. He is William S. Tod Professor of Religion and African American Studies as well as Chair of the Center for African American Studies at Princeton University. In his keynote, Prof. Glaude will discuss civil rights activist Martin Luther King, Jr., who died 50 years ago.
The James W.C. Pennington Award, now in its seventh year, recognises outstanding scholars conducting research in areas especially important to Pennington: slavery and emancipation, peace, education, societal reform, civil rights, religion and intercultural understanding. The prize includes a one-month research sojourn in Heidelberg made possible through funding from the Manfred Lautenschläger Foundation.
Born in 1809, James W.C. Pennington escaped from slavery at the age of 18, learned to read and write, and in 1834 was admitted to Yale University as its first black student. He became a minister in the Presbyterian Church in 1838. At the World Peace Conference in Paris in 1849, Pennington met Heidelberg scholar Friedrich Carové, who was so impressed with the American that he convinced the Heidelberg University to award Pennington an honorary doctorate in theology that same year.
At the award ceremony on 19 June, Prof. Glaude will deliver the keynote entitled "Dr Martin Luther King, Jr.’s Prophetic Witness, Fifty Years Later". The lecture will be in English. The event at the Heidelberg Center for American Studies, Hauptstraße 120, begins at 6:15 p.m.