Skip to content

Religious Studies in the News

Larry S. Perry, II Joins Department

Larry S. Perry, II Joins Department

We welcome Larry S. Perry, II, to the UT Department of Religious Studies and the Interdisciplinary Program in Africana Studies. Perry holds a joint appointment and teaches classes in both programs. Perry’s hire was integral in the development and launch of our new concentration in Religion, Race, and Ethnicity, which focuses on the intersections of religion, race, and ethnicity in North America. Perry also spearheaded a major grant initiative on behalf of UT last year.


Before joining us, Perry served as visiting assistant professor of American religions in the Department of Religious Studies at Northwestern University and as a post-doctoral fellow at the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History’s Center for the Study of African American Religious Life in Conjunction with Georgetown University’s Department of African American Studies. Perry earned degrees in history (BA) from Fisk University, Theology (MDiv) from Union Theological Seminary in the City of New York, and earned his PhD in American religious history from the University of Virginia.


His current book project, A Black Spiritual Leftist: Howard Thurman and the Religious Left’s Unfinished Business of Race Relations, is an intellectual and political biography of the mid-twentieth century mystic and philosopher Howard Thurman. Professor Perry’s research focuses on what he has called the Black Spiritual Left, African Americans who found, experienced and created religious life largely outside of black churches. While these figures took on a spirituality that embraced modernity, they also pushed for racial justice —unlike most of their white spiritual leftist counterparts. Ultimately, his research project shines a historical spotlight upon Black Spiritual Leftists as early as the nineteenth century and as late as the twentieth-first century.

The flagship campus of the University of Tennessee System and partner in the Tennessee Transfer Pathway.