Santa Clara University

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Michael Eric Dyson

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October 9, 2008
Mayer Theatre, 7:30 p.m.

This event is co-sponsored by the Ignatian Center for Jesuit Education.

How can the African American church remain vital in the 21st century? What can bridge the religious racial divide in America? What messages would Martin Luther King Jr. have for our world today?

Ordained Baptist minister Michael Eric Dyson is a cultural commentator and scholar whom Essence magazine calls one of the country’s 40 most inspiring African Americans. He is the author of 16 books, including his most recent, April 4, 1968: Martin Luther King Jr.’s Death and How It Changed America, where he details ways in which, as he describes it, “Dr. King’s martyrdom has both elevated and distorted his message.” 

Called “a preacher on the warpath” against prejudice and a “hip hop intellectual,” Dyson has written and spoken extensively on the history and influence of the black church, on black youth culture, and on the junctures of religion, racial identity, and politics. A supporter of Barack Obama, Dyson was called upon frequently by the media during the Jeremiah Wright debate, which he attributed largely to white America’s ignorance of the conversations, conventions, and attitudes within black churches, saying “It is shocking that it was shocking that what Reverend Wright said was shocking.”  

Earlier books include Know What I Mean?, a critical study of hip hop music; Come Hell or High Water: Hurricane Katrina and the Color of Disaster; and Is Bill Cosby Right? Or Has the Black Middle Class Lost Its Mind? 

From critiquing the prosperity gospel of megachurches to opining in the New York Times that the Democratic Party desperately needs to develop a backbone, Dyson does not shy from controversy. From a poor family in Detroit, Dyson said as a youth he was someone “that nobody cared about.” Religion transformed his view: “What the church taught me is to transform that fighting, to make it count for more…make it count in ways that will affect an entire nation.”  

Dyson holds a doctorate from Princeton University and teaches in the sociology department at Georgetown University. He has also taught at the University of Pennsylvania, DePaul University, Chicago Theological Seminary, the University of North Carolina, Columbia University, and Brown University.

Visit Michael Eric Dyson's website for more information on the author and his works.

Please join us for a conversation with Dyson, followed by a book signing.