Angela interviewed Dr. Emilie M. Townes on October 12, 2021, via video conference. Townes talked about growing up in Durham, North Carolina, her formative years in theological education and parachurch work, and the necessity of having a robust hope.
Emilie M. Townes, an American Baptist clergywoman, is a native of Durham, NC. She holds a DMin from the University of Chicago Divinity School and a PhD in Religion in Society and Personality from Northwestern University. Townes is the Dean and Distinguished Professor of Womanist Ethics and Society at Vanderbilt University Divinity School, becoming the first African American to serve as its dean in 2013. She is the former Mellon Professor of African American Religion and Theology at Yale University Divinity School where she was the first African American and first woman to serve as Associate Dean for Academic Affairs. In 2008, she was the first African American woman to serve as president of the American Academy of Religion and recently served as President of the Society for the Study of Black Religion from 2012-2016. She taught on the faculties of Union Theological Seminary, NY and Saint Paul School of Theology. She is the editor of two collection of essays, author of four books including her groundbreaking book, Womanist Ethics and the Cultural Production of Evil. She is a co-editor of two books. Townes was elected a Fellow in the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 2009.