Urbana, IL 61801
Alexia Williams is an Assistant Professor of Religion and African American Studies at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, where she also serves as Co-director of Graduate Studies in Religion. She specializes in Afro-American religious history, Roman Catholicism, Afro-diasporic religions in hemispheric context, and American secularism. Her research and teaching explore how religious communities operate as sites of racial identity formation, political organizing, and aesthetic production for Black Americans.
Her ongoing book project, titled Black Revolutionary Saints: Roman Catholicism & the U.S. Racial Imagination, examines Catholic lay efforts to canonize an African American saint within the Roman Catholic tradition. While the Vatican has yet to officially recognize a saint of African American descent, the veneration of these holy figures has become a key component of advocacy for racial justice in Catholic communities and institutions. Dr. Williams contextualizes the political discourses and aesthetic production inspired by these potential saints within the landscape of 20th and 21st century American social movements and public life.
Dr. Williams holds a Ph.D. in American Studies and African American Studies from Yale University and a B.A. in English and Spanish from Spelman College. Before joining the University of Illinois, she was a post-doctoral fellow at the John C. Danforth Center on Religion and Politics. Her research has been generously supported by the UNCF Mellon Mays Program, the Ford Foundation, and the Louisville Institute.
American Religious History
Afro-diasporic Religions & Cultures
Race Formations & the Secular
Religion & Popular Culture
Ph.D., Yale University
B.A., Spelman College
AFRO199/REL298: Becoming Malcolm & Martin
REL235: American Religious History
REL 335: Religion in Contemporary America
REL 439: Catholicism in the United States
REL 494: Religion & Popular Music
AFRO498: African American Religious History
Additional Campus Affiliations
Department of African American Studies
Department of Gender & Women's Studies