Associate Professor Tamura Lomax is going back to her roots to the discipline that first inspired her scholarly work. In January 2023, she will begin teaching classes as a faculty member of Michigan State University’s Department of Religious Studies.
A scholar, author, and activist, Lomax never left Religious Studies, it’s always been an important part of her life, but now she gets to fulfill her dream of working as a full-time faculty member of the department.
“I am a Black feminist scholar of religion. That’s my background, and it’s always been a goal of mine to be in a department of religion or religious studies,” Lomax said. “So when this opportunity availed itself, it was very exciting and appealing to me to get back to my roots. To be part of the Department of Religious Studies, it’s like going back home.”
Lomax has a Ph.D. and M.A. in Religion from Vanderbilt University with a specialization in Black Religion and Black Cultural Studies. She also has an MDiv and a ThM from Candler School of Theology, Emory University.
She first came to Michigan State University in 2020 as the Foundational Associate Professor of the Department of African American and African Studies (AAAS). The creation of this new department had just been approved by the MSU Board of Trustees a year prior and Lomax was brought on board, amidst the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, to help build the department.
In her first year with the AAAS Department, she initiated the creation of the mission and helped design the curriculum for the new AAAS major, minor, M.A., and Ph.D. programs. She also chaired searches for AAAS faculty and conceptualized and designed the AAAS website.
“I am a Black feminist scholar of religion. That’s my background, and it’s always been a goal of mine to be in a department of religion or religious studies. So when this opportunity availed itself, it was very exciting and appealing to me to get back to my roots.”Tamura Lomax, Associate Professor of Religious Studies
She now turns her focus to MSU’s Department of Religious Studies for which she is creating new courses. This Spring 2023, she will teach a course she created, called “Black Prophetic Tradition and Social Movements,” which will look at the foundations of Black prophecy in America and how that informs social movement. She is also creating and will teach a 100-level course on “Black Religious Worlds.”
“We are thrilled that Dr. Tamura Lomax has joined the Department of Religious Studies,” said Amy DeRogatis, Chair of the Department of Religious Studies. “She is an enormously talented and innovative scholar who will build on existing departmental strengths as she also brings exciting new courses and outstanding research in the important field of Black Religions and Spirituality.”
As a member of the AAAS faculty, Lomax created the course, “Black Religion and Spirituality,” which she taught during the 2021-2022 academic year and that will now be offered through the Department of Religious Studies.
“I was fortunate to be a foundational hire in the AAAS Department so I could help create the historic structure, and particularly the curriculum. Because in the creation of that curriculum, I could say that we have to focus on religion,” Lomax said. “We cannot talk about Black people and not talk about religion. Pew Research Center reports Black Americans are more religious than the U.S. public overall. Ninety percent of those polled believe in God or a higher power. And while this number is decreasing, 66% of that number are Protestant, the majority of whom see race as important and/or are affiliated with the Black Church.”
Lomax brings to the Department of Religious Studies her expertise in this area of Black religion and spirituality.
“I appreciate the Department of Religious Studies’ interest in race and social justice. Because they already had those interests, there was this need to create courses for students interested in race, religion, and social movement; Black students who are interested in religion; and those interested in Black religion and spirituality,” Lomax said. “That is something the department has wanted for a while. So it is really a wonderful match because I do bring that background. I bring that research. I bring that scholarship.”
While at Vanderbilt, Lomax also developed expertise in Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies and Black British and U.S. Black Cultural Studies. In 2011, she co-founded The Feminist Wire, “an online publication committed to feminist, anti-racist, and anti-imperialist socio-political critique.” In addition to online publishing, The Feminist Wire has a book series with the University of Arizona Press: The Feminist Wire Books: Connecting Feminisms, Race, and Social Justice. The series recently published, A Love Letter to This Bridge Called My Back (2022) and Lavender Fields: Black Women Experiencing Fear, Agency, and Hope in the Time of COVID-19 (2022).
Lomax recently learned that Harvard University would like to purchase The Feminist Wire website. The Feminist Wire Collection will include essays, emails, photos, and Lomax’s papers.
“We are thrilled that Dr. Tamura Lomax has joined the Department of Religious Studies. She is an enormously talented and innovative scholar who will build on existing departmental strengths.”Amy DeRogatis, Chair of the Department of Religious Studies
“I’m a visionary and dreamer. When I created The Feminist Wire in 2011, I was told the project ‘didn’t count’ as scholarly production because it wasn’t a traditional journal or university press. However, I’m a firm believer that if you dream it the universe will yield to the dream,” Lomax said. “Eleven years later, we not only have our own university press series and several academic essays on our work, we are headed to Harvard, which will be the sites final resting place.”
This semester, as Lomax prepares to begin teaching Religious Studies courses in the spring, she also is finishing up work on her third and fourth books, titled Girls to Women: A Black Feminist Bible on Race, Gender, and Motherhood in America and Boys to Men: A Black Feminist Bible on Race, Gender, and Motherhood in America, with Duke University Press. Both are expected to be published in 2023.
“Boys to Men is written in deep conversation with Girls to Women: A Black Feminist Bible on Race, Gender, and Motherhood in America,” Lomax said. “Whereas Girls to Women is a book about my journey from Black girlhood to motherhood and thusly centers and makes visible Black girls, Boys to Men is a collection of stories about mothering Black boys to men in the face of white supremacist capitalist patriarchy.”