Honoring C. Eric Lincoln

Scholars and people of two faiths will celebrate the life and work of C. Eric Lincoln on March 4

Two faith communities will join on March 4 to honor renowned Duke religious scholar C. Eric Lincoln.

"Black Church and Black Mosque: An Interfaith Conversation on Faith and Race Honoring C. Eric Lincoln" will feature scholars of African-American Christianity and Islam. The free, public event, which is also part of Duke's "Commemorating 50 Years of Black Students" celebration, will be at 7 p.m. in the divinity school's Goodson Chapel.

Although the conversation will focus on the African-American Christian and Muslim communities today, event organizer and Associate Dean of Religious Life Christy Lohr Sapp said research by Lincoln, who died in 2000, is still central to the discussion.

Author of the seminal "Black Muslims in America," Lincoln was one of the first scholars to study African-American Islam and understand African-American church and mosque cultures. He taught at Duke from 1976 and 1993. Lohr Sapp said Lincoln's research made interfaith dialogues of this nature possible.

Panelists will include Duke divinity professor William Turner, University of Southern California religion professor Sherman Jackson and Vassar religious studies professor Lawrence Mamiya, who along with Turner knew Lincoln personally.

"He's one of Duke's unsung heroes," Lohr Sapp said. "In his books, he talks about the need for reconciliation between races and faiths. He talks about a shared vulnerability and a need to communicate across traditions."

Lohr Sapp said the event came out of discussions about honoring Lincoln's legacy of scholarship and social activism in the Civil Rights movement but quickly evolved into an interfaith conversation centered on his work in the African-American Muslim and Christian communities.

"We have conversations about race relations and Christian-Muslim relations, but how often do we have conversations about faith within the African-American community and the tensions within that community?" Lohr Sapp said.

"None of us lives in a vacuum," she added. "If we aren't fluent in the lexicon of engagement and we can't talk to each other across the race line or the faith line, we really limit the conversations we can have with our neighbors.

"For more information on "Black Church & Black Mosque," click here. For more information on "Celebrating the Past, Charting the Future: Commemorating 50 Years of Black Students at Duke," visit http://spotlight.duke.edu/50years/.