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The Visual Arts Center of New Jersey will host a scholarly talk followed by a reception with Dr. Betty Adams, “When and Where I Enter: The Vital Agency and Activism of Black Womanhood-A Historical Perspective.” Register for the free, public event here.

Dr. Betty Livingston Adams is an independent scholar, author, former university professor and holds a Doctor of Philosophy (with distinction) and the Master of Philosophy degrees from Yale University and the Master of Divinity (Summa Cum Laude) degree from Drew University, Madison, NJ.

The recipient of numerous fellowships and academic honors, Dr. Adams was a Global Scholar at the Institute for Research on Women (Rutgers University); Fellow at the Yale Initiative on Material and Visual Culture of Religion; Associate Fellow at the Rutgers Center for Historical Analysis, and a Ford Foundation Doctoral Fellow. She has held faculty appointments at Rutgers University-New Brunswick, Drew University and Southern University

Her scholarship and teaching explore nineteenth- and twentieth-century American and African American religious and social history through the lens of gender, race, and class. Her most recent publication, Black Women’s Christian Activism: Seeking Social Justice in a Northern Suburb (New York University Press) received the 2017 Wilbur Award for excellence in communicating “religious issues, values, and themes with professionalism, fairness and honesty”; the 2018 New Jersey Studies Academic Alliance Author Award for scholarly excellence; and the 2019-2020 Drew University Bela Kornitzer Prize for Outstanding Nonfiction Book. In the words of one reviewer, “With [Black Women’s Christian Activism], Adams has given the world a gift, and like the best of gifts it continues giving, in the form of pressing questions to investigate and challenges to accepted history, such that history must be re-written to acknowledge the many contributions these women made to the struggle for freedom and justice.” From 2016 through 2020, Black Women’s Christian Activism was featured on the list of the 100 Best Social Activism Books of All Time. A retired corporate manager, Dr. Adams is an associate minister at Fountain Baptist Church, Summit, New Jersey.

This talk is in conjunction with the current exhibition in our Marité and Joe Robinson Strolling Gallery, “Parvathi Kumar: Everyday Blackness” made up of portraits of twenty-five women and features quotations from, and brief biographies of, each sitter. Beginning in June 2020, Kumar interviewed and photographed twenty-five Black women in the New Jersey area to showcase their collective courage and resilience. Responding to the murder of George Floyd and the Black Lives Matter protests, as well as the global COVID-19 pandemic, the New Jersey-based photographer, wanted to document and share the vast goodness she observed in this group of women—goodness that prevailed over the pain people were feeling.


Visual Arts Center of New Jersey
68 Elm Street
Summit, NJ 07901 United States
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