Black August: Renita Weems on Womanist Biblical Interpretation

Black August Series

August 24, 2023, 7:30pm Eastern Time

Womanist Biblical Interpretation: Exposing Whiteness, Critiquing Harmful Texts, Transforming the Conversation

Drawing from her articles “‘To Think Better Than We Have Been Trained’: Thirty Years Later” (BTCR) and “On Leaving But Not Going Far” (BSM), Rev. Dr. Renita Weems will share about her experience challenging racism and patriarchy within the field of Biblical scholarship. The first African American woman to earn a Ph.D. in Hebrew Bible, Dr. Weems has been consistently opening up space to face and wrestle with the layers of violence embedded into biblical texts. She will discuss the relationship between this work, and accessing the power of the Bible for liberation.

Dr. Weems will be joined in conversation with longtime anti-racism activist, minister and musician Rev. Osagyefo Sekou. The session will be hosted and facilitated by Rev. Dr. Angela Parker, co-editor of Bitter the Chastening Rod: Africana Biblical Interpretation after Stony the Road We Trod in the Age of BLM, SayHerName, and MeToo.

This year’s Black August series is focused on how the experiences of struggle to overcome racism, slavery and mass incarceration have informed Black/Africana biblical interpretation, and how Black scholars are using the understanding embedded in these experiences to reshape the field of biblical scholarship. The series is being curated by Hugh Page (co-editor of Black Scholars Matter) and Angela Parker (co-editor of Bitter the Chastening Rod), along with Nicholas Johnson, Sr. Sharifa Vernice Meytung, Sherly Fabre, Warren Cooper, Carolyn Grice and Amy Dalton. Bios are available at We are grateful for the co-sponsorship of Johnson C. Smith Theological Seminary and the Community of Living Traditions.

Rev. Dr. Renita J. Weems is an independent biblical scholar, minister, and author whose scholarly insights into modern faith, biblical texts, and the role of spirituality in everyday lives has made her a highly sought-after writer and speaker for more than four decades. She has numerous books, commentaries and articles on the Bible and prophetic religion to her credit. She has written multiple articles and essays for academics, preachers and lay audiences on topics of faith, prophetic religion, Christian ethics, biblical notions of justice, women’s spirituality, and the Bible and human sexuality. She has taught at Vanderbilt Divinity School, Spelman College, Howard University Divinity School and Memphis Theological Seminary. She earned a Ph.D. degree at Princeton Theological Seminary in 1989 making her the first African-American woman to earn a doctorate in Old Testament Studies. Read Full Bio

Rev. Osagyefo Uhuru Sekou is the Pastor of Theology and Arts at Valley & Mountain, a spiritual community/church in the Rainier Valley of Seattle, Washington. A longtime anti-racism activist, community organizer, movement musician, theologian, author and public intellectual, Rev. Sekou was born in St. Louis, Missouri and raised in the rural Arkansas Delta. At the time of Michael Brown Jr’s killing in 2014, he was a Visiting Scholar at Stanford University’s Martin Luther King Education and Research Institute and the Bayard Rustin Fellow at the Fellowship of Reconciliation. He traveled to his hometown days after the uprising began and spent the months and years that follwed training and ministering to the Ferguson movement community. Since then he has released two critically acclaimed gospel-blues albums inspired by this experience. Rev. Sekou is currently pursuing a doctorate in theology at Goldsmiths, University of London.

Rev. Dr. Angela N. Parker is assistant professor of New Testament and Greek at McAfee School of Theology at Mercer University. She received her B.A. in religion and philosophy from Shaw University, her M.T.S. from Duke Divinity School and her Ph.D. in Bible, culture, and hermeneutics (New Testament focus) from Chicago Theological Seminary. She teaches courses in New Testament, Greek Exegesis, the Gospel of Mark, the Corinthians Correspondence, the Gospel of John, and Womanist and Feminist Hermeneutics unto preaching. Read full bio at