Subversive Habits: Black Catholic Nuns in the Long African American Freedom Struggle


Product Details

Duke University Press
Publish Date
6.13 X 9.25 X 0.86 inches | 1.29 pounds

Earn by promoting books

Earn money by sharing your favorite books through our Affiliate program.

Become an affiliate

About the Author

Shannen Dee Williams is Associate Professor of History at the University of Dayton.


"Sweeping in its scope, exhaustively researched, and balanced in presentation, Subversive Habits is a seminal history of Black Catholic Nuns and their struggle for equality and justice in the Catholic Church."--Bettye Collier-Thomas, author of "Jesus, Jobs, and Justice: African American Women and Religion"
"Deeply researched, elegantly written, and boldly argued, Subversive Habits is a brilliant excavation of the long political history of Black nuns. This is extraordinary scholarship that is as accessible as it is groundbreaking and illuminating. This timely and essential book widens the frames of Black women's history, of religion and activism, and of Black Catholicism."--Barbara D. Savage, author of "Your Spirits Walk beside Us: The Politics of Black Religion"
"An awe-inspiring history book about Black nuns who fought for freedom and equality. . . . Subversive Habits is a stirring history text about the remarkable faith and conviction of Black nuns in America."--Melissa Wuske "Foreword" (5/1/2022 12:00:00 AM)
(Starred Review) "Informative and often surprising, this should be required reading for scholars of Catholic and African American religious history and will undoubtedly become the standard text on its subject."-- "Publishers Weekly" (2/4/2022 12:00:00 AM)
"The 'uncommon faithfulness' of the nuns in Subversive Habits--taking the church at its word when it teaches that we are all one body--is a model of discipleship from which all Catholics can learn."--Kathleen Manning "U.S. Catholic" (5/6/2022 12:00:00 AM)
"Shannen Williams's book chronicles the bold steps and persistence African-American sisters took to debunk their rejection by white orders that insisted Black women lacked souls and/or virtue suitable to be admitted to them. . . . This outstanding book, Subversive Habits, is well-researched, quite revealing and a set of history and reality lessons of how Black sisters kept the faith and made the Catholic Church change."--Ralph E. Moore, Jr. "The AFRO" (6/4/2022 12:00:00 AM)
"This eye-opening, inspiring and thoroughly researched book unearths a history that few Americans know: the challenges and triumphs of Black Catholic nuns in the United States. It's one of the most exciting new books in Black women's history and powerfully captures the interconnections between race, religion and politics."--Keisha Blain "Politico" (7/1/2022 12:00:00 AM)
"Subversive Habits demands a committed reader. However, it will reward the resilient and open-minded reader with apokalupsis--tremendous learning about the scope of racism throughout the American Catholic Church as well as the witness of these Black Catholic women and their contributions to the church and the world. Please take up the reading and stick with it. Draw some perseverance from the women the book depicts and take heart in their commitment to justice."--Kevin Spinale "America" (9/16/2022 12:00:00 AM)
"Subversive Habits brings a very necessary balance to histories published in recent decades that focus on civil rights work by Catholics. It seems these historians were writing about the exception and not the norm. This is the story of courageous nuns, including those who felt they couldn't remain any longer, who are the true gems of American Catholic history. Every woman religious must read this book."--Laura Swan "Magistra" (7/1/2022 12:00:00 AM)
"In Subversive Habits, historian Williams has given us a remarkable work of scholarship, one that may be distressing for many readers because she clears away any shred of doubt about the U.S. Catholic Church being racist from its very beginnings."--Kathleen Finley "The Tablet" (9/23/2022 12:00:00 AM)
"I have never read a more thoughtful account of the Black Catholic experience than Shannen Dee Williams' Subversive Habits. Williams' book is a revelatory history of the experiences of Black religious women in understanding race, faith, and change in the Catholic church from the antebellum period through the various waves of civil-rights struggle to the contemporary era."--Marcia Chatelain "Chronicle of Higher Education" (12/21/2022 12:00:00 AM)

"Williams seeks to tell the story of these women and of the Black and majority white sisterhoods in which they participated. The account is well documented, and Williams includes a look at the current departures of Black sisters from religious life and considers the likely future of Black female religious communities. Recommended. Graduate students, researchers, faculty, and professionals."
--L. H. Hoyle "Choice" (5/1/2023 12:00:00 AM)