Rev. Dr. Joanne Braxton

Distinguished Visiting Lecturer

Rev. Joanne Braxton, PhD (she/her/they them) is the CEO and president of the board of the Braxton Institute, a nonprofit organization that heals cycles of violence through research, education, and community-based public health interventions. Dr. Braxton’s early work on Black women’s literature and particularly the outraged mother in the slave narrative genre constitute a foundational contribution to Womanist Thought. She holds a doctorate and  the M.A. in American Studies from Yale University as well as the M.T.S. from Pacific School of Religion. She also received the M.Div. degree from the Samuel DeWitt Proctor School of Theology in Richmond Virginia, where she studied with Womanist Ethicist Katie Canon and worked closely with Angela Sims. Dr. Braxton is a member of All Souls Church Unitarian in Washington, D.C. and The Great Awakening United Church of Christ in Portsmouth, Virginia. She is an ordained UCC minister and Emeritus Research Professor in Africana Studies at William & Mary, where she founded the W&M Middle Passage Project and continues to serve as special advisor to The Lemon Project: A Journey of Reconciliation. She is a poet and author whose books include Black Female Sexualities (2015) and Monuments of the Black Atlantic: Slavery and Memory (2003). Dr. Braxton has served as a pastoral and spiritual caregiver in clinical, congregational and movement settings. During the pandemic, she has been active as PI for a Luce Foundation funded Braxton Institute Tree of Life: Black Faith Matters Covid-19 Rapid Response grant awarded by the Columbia University Center for African American Religion, Sexual Politics and Social Justice and also as a leader of small group Tree of Life Circles of Carefor helpers and healers. A member of the Society for the Study of Black Religion and the steering committee of the Moral Injury Unit of the American Academy of Religion, she currently she serves as an advisory board member helping shape the Smithsonian Institution Creative Encounters: Living Religions in the U.S. 2023 Folklife Festival. Dr. Braxton is a Wenner Gren Foundation Fellow and a Fellow of the Hastings Center for Bioethics. She has been active in national conversations about the health equity, medicine, arts and social justice through the Hastings Center and the American Association of Medical Colleges Fundamental Role of the Arts and Humanities in Medical Education (FRAHME) initiative, building on past pedagogy and scholarship, and persisting in bringing the voices of the historically marginalized into public discourse with transformational outcomes.