The untold history of black nuns in the United States

Posted on June 25, 2018


Ashley McKinless June 22, 2018


An undated photo of the Sisters of the Holy Family in New Orleans is seen at the National Museum of African American in Washington Jan. 5, 2017. February is African American history month. (CNS photo/Tyler Orsburn)

Ask most people what they know about black Catholic sisters, and they will probably murmur something about “Sister Act.” Dr. Shannen Dee Williams did, too, until she began digging into communities’ archives and uncovering the previously hidden lives of African-American women religious. Now she’s telling those stories in a forthcoming book (with an amazing title), Subversive Habits.

Shannen tells us about the incredible resilience and deep faith of black Catholic women in the face of racism, discrimination and exclusion. We ask her how these stories affected her own faith and what racial reconciliation in the church looks like today.

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