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Decolonizing History - A Six-Month Event Series

Hosted by the

Lepage Center for History in the Public Interest at Villanova University

Why are the histories of certain peoples and places prioritized over others? How do these historical erasures contribute to social injustice today? In this unique series, titled “Decolonizing History,” the Lepage Center seeks to advance the public interest by asking questions about how history is written, taught and understood. The series will challenge how historical knowledge is produced and offer diverse and inclusive ways to study and interpret the past.


Decolonizing the Church

November 2020

Part 1: Creating Our Own Narrative: A Conversation with Dr. Tia Noelle Pratt, Curator of the #BlackCatholicsSyllabus

Wednesday, November 4th, 2020

How have citational practices among scholars contributed to the marginalization and erasure of Black Catholics in the history of the Church? Please join us for a conversation with Dr. Tia Noelle Pratt, a sociologist of religion specializing in systemic racism in the Catholic Church. Dr. Pratt received her PhD from Fordham University, and she is the President & Director of Research at TNPratt & Associates, LLC - an Inclusion and Diversity consulting firm. As a public scholar, Dr. Pratt has written for Faithfully, America, and Commonweal, and in 2020, she was a finalist for a Religion News Association Award. Pratt is currently working on her first book, Faithful and Devoted: Racism and Identity in the African-American Catholic Experience.    

Moderated by Dr. Shannen Dee Williams, the Albert Lepage Assistant Professor of History at Villanova University.

Tia Noelle Pratt


Part 2: The Real Sister Act: Confronting the Uneasy History of Racial Segregation and Exclusion in Female Religious Life

Wednesday, November 11th, 2020

How do the lived experiences of Black Catholic sisters challenge and revise dominant narratives of the U.S. Catholic experience?  Join us for a lecture by Dr. Shannen Dee Williams, the Albert Lepage Assistant Professor of History at Villanova University. In this talk, Dr. Williams will examine the largely hidden history of anti-black racism in female religious life and chart the long struggle to the nation’s historically white and white ethnic sisterhoods. A historian of the African American experience with research and teaching specializations in women’s, religious, and black freedom movement history, Williams is completing her first book, Subversive Habits: Black Catholic Nuns in the Long African American Freedom Struggle, with Duke University Press.

Co-sponsored by the Center for Peace & Justice Education

shannen williams


Part 3: Preserving Philadelphia's Black Catholic History and Heritage in the 21st Century: A Roundtable Discussion

Wednesday, November 18th, 2020

In what ways has the succession of church closures and mergers during the past quarter century uniquely threatened the survival of Black Catholic communities and the preservation of Black Catholic history in the United States? In our third and final event of the “Decolonizing the Church” series, Dr. Shannen Dee Williams will moderate a roundtable discussion with three local lay leaders who have mobilized in creative ways to preserve Black Catholic history and heritage in the face of erasure in 21st century Philadelphia.


Moderated by Dr. Shannen Dee Williams, the Albert Lepage Assistant Professor of History at Villanova University.


Decolonizing Land

October 2020


Part 1: A Conversation with Professor Elizabeth Ellis

Part 2: Mobilizing Indigenous Histories


Decolonizing the Curriculum

September 2020

Part 1: A Conversation with Dr. Manjeet Ramgotra

Part 2: A Roundtable Conversation