Interdisciplinary Scholar Imani Perry to Converse with Krista Tippett on Theology and Grace


Award-winning author Imani Perry will give her lecture in conversation with Krista Tippett at 10:45 a.m. today in the Amphitheater.

Perry is the Hughes-Rogers professor of African American studies at Princeton University, and is also affiliated with the University Center for Human Values, the Program in Law and Public Affairs, gender and sexuality studies and jazz studies.

She is a scholar of cultural studies, legal history and African American studies. Perry is the author of six books, including Looking for Lorraine: The Radiant and Radical Life of Lorraine Hansberry; Vexy Thing: On Gender and Liberation and May We Forever Stand: A History of the Black National Anthem. She was the winner of the 2019 PEN/Jacqueline Bograd Weld Award for Biography for Looking for Lorraine, which was also a New York Times Notable Book of 2018.

In 2016, Perry was pulled over by Princeton police for speeding. They found that her license was suspended due to unpaid traffic tickets, which were two to three years old at the time. She was detained for the warrant and handcuffed to a bench during the booking process. Perry posted bail and was released. She later paid a $428 traffic fine. Perry uses her experience to have ongoing conversations about police brutality toward African Americans.

Perry’s books range from exploring African American experiences of injustice and racial inequality in America, to discussing feminism through a literary analysis of cultural artifacts from the Enlightenment to the present. The majority of her books are centered around African American culture and history.

Perry sent Tippett a copy of her forthcoming book, Breathe: A Letter to My Sons, and said that her ideas for the book started to form during the pair’s last conversation at Chautauqua in 2014.

“It’s a very different cultural moment (than 2014), and I think it’s a much more painful and problematic topic now, openly for all of us, but also it’s a reckoning that we’re openly doing it,” said Tippett, American journalist, author and public radio host of “On Being.”

Tippett said she knew Perry would be a perfect fit for Week Seven at Chautauqua because of what Perry brings to the conversation on grace.

“She has a really interesting theological tradition, and approaches the language of grace and the language of theology in a way that I think might surprise people,” Tippett said. “She’s not someone who is known as a religious thinker, or even a religious person, but it floats all the way through this wiring, so I just knew as we started talking — literally the book was in my hands — as we were thinking, who do we want to have in Chautauqua? And I said, ‘Well, I think we have to have Imani.’ ”

Staff writer Eleanor Bishop contributed to this report.

Tags : African American studiesAmphitheaterlecturemorning lectureMorning Lecture PreviewWeek Seven

The author Marianna Moore

Marianna Moore is a rising senior at the University of Missouri. She is studying journalism with a concentration in strategic communication. She interns as a writer for the university’s Office of Student Affairs and previously interned as a social media manager with Mizzou International Experience. In her free time, Marianna likes to volunteer at the Central Missouri Humane Society and enjoys writing poetry.