Participant Info

First Name
Shannen Dee
Last Name
University of Dayton
Website URL
Black Nuns, Catholicism, Slavery, Education, Civil Rights, Black Power
Additional Contact Information

Personal Info

About Me

Dr. Shannen Dee Williams is Associate Professor of History at the University of Dayton, specializing in African-American history, United States history, Black women’s history, the history of the Black freedom struggle, and the Black Catholic experience. A native of Memphis, TN, Williams is a Phi Beta Kappa graduate of Agnes Scott College, where she earned a B.A. in History. She also holds a M.A. in Afro-American Studies from the University of Wisconsin at Madison and a Ph.D. in History from Rutgers University. A Distinguished Lecturer for the Organization of American Historians, Williams received the inaugural Sister Christine Schenk Award for Young Catholic Leadership from Future Church for using history to foster racial justice and reconciliation in religious congregations of women in September 2018.




Recent Publications

Subversive Habits: Black Catholic Nuns in the Long African American Freedom Struggle (forthcoming from Duke University Press in April 2022)

“Reckoning with the Church’s Constellation of Unmarked Graves,” Catholic News Service, June 25, 2021. Online and print. *Editors’ choice selection.

“Why Every Catholic Should Make a Pilgrimage to Elmina Castle in Ghana,” Catholic News Service. February 24, 2021. Online and print. *Editors’ choice selection.

“Black Catholic Women like Amanda Gorman are Forgotten Prophets of American Democracy,” Washington Post: Made by History, February 10, 2021. Online and in print. Reprinted online in Black Perspectives on March 2, 2021.

“A Final Requiem for an Extraordinary Nun and Champion of Black Catholic History,” Catholic New Service, December 28, 2020. Online and print. *Editors’ choice selection.

“Why the Nation’s First Black Cardinal Matters,” Catholic News Service, November 29, 2020. Online and print, including the special edition of The Catholic Standard, vol. 70, no. 16, December 10, 2020.

“The Church Must Make Reparation for Its Role in Slavery, Segregation,” National Catholic Reporter, June 15, 2020. Online and print.

“What A Forgotten Black Nun Can Teach Us about Racism and COVID 19.” America Magazine, online edition, April 23, 2020. This article was published in print on June 8, 2020 under the title, “An Unequal Burden.”

“The Black Catholic Nun Every American Should Know,” Catholic News Service, March 3, 2020. Reprinted online and in Catholic newspapers and magazines, including America, across the country in Feb.-March. 2020.

“Black History Is Catholic History,” The Catholic News Service, January 19, 2020. Reprinted online and in Catholic newspapers across the country in Jan.-Feb. 2020. *Also included on the History News Network’s Top Ten List for February.

“Sister Antona Ebo’s Lifelong Struggle against White Supremacy, Inside and Outside of the Catholic Church,” America: The Jesuit Review, November 22, 2017.

“Dear U.S. Catholic Theologians: The Lives of Black Women and Girls Always Matter,” Patheos, December 12, 2014. *Reprinted on on December 13, 2014. *Also prompted correction to the U.S. Catholic Theologians’ Statement on Police Violence, which initially omitted black women and girls as victims and opponents of state violence.

Media Coverage
Country Focus
Expertise by Geography
United States
Expertise by Chronology
19th century, 20th century
Expertise by Topic
Race, Rebellion & Revolution, Religion, Sexuality, Sexual Violence, Slavery, Women