Fortress Press

Liberation and the Cosmos: Conversations with the Elders, Revised Edition

Liberation and the Cosmos

Conversations with the Elders, Revised Edition

Barbara A. Holmes (Author)


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The rich legacy of black critical thought, creative expression, and religious reflection come together in these creatively imagined conversations between the elders about the shape and conditions of Black liberation.

Barbara A. Holmes has defined key issues of freedom and identity, hypothesizing a meeting of the ancestors assembled "on the other side" to discuss them. Imagine a conversation between Barbara Jordan and Thurgood Marshall on what freedom looks like in relation to law and politics. Or, between Tupac Shakur, Nina Simone, and James Baldwin on art, culture, and liberation. Malcolm X and Harriet Tubman discuss freedom and wholeness, while Audre Lorde, Fannie Lou Hamer, and George Washington Carver talk about liberated bodies.

These imagined dialogues open up rich reflection and insight and offer a unique vantage point for understanding the luminaries of liberation down through the generations. An important resource for the contemporary task of Black liberation.

  • Publisher Fortress Press
  • Format Paperback
  • ISBN 9781506488424
  • eBook ISBN 9781506488431
  • Dimensions 6 x 9
  • Pages 223
  • Publication Date February 28, 2023


"Barbara Holmes's conversations with our elders remind us that the freedom we seek today comes from a long line of folk who remembered to reach back for us before they left us. And they have left us with the wisdom to seek freedom."

Emilie M. Townes, E. Rhodes and Leona B. Carpenter Chair in Ethics and Society; University Distinguished Professor of Womanist Ethics and of Society and Gender and Sexuality Studies, Vanderbilt University Divinity School

"The elders and ancestors speak to us throughout the pages of this remarkable book, reminding us that our lives, dreams, hopes, and struggles are intimately and forever linked to theirs. There is much food for thought in Liberation and the Cosmos, and the sheer wisdom coursing through its content will enrich lives and liberation projects for generations to come. A unique, profound, and highly readable book!"

Lewis V. Baldwin, emeritus professor of religious studies, Vanderbilt University, and author of The Arc of Truth: The Thinking of Martin Luther King Jr.

"Barbara Holmes performs the power of conjuration that set the study of Black religion in motion. Liberation and Cosmos excites mimetic powers of imagination for contemporaries for whom the elders are not only remembered and venerated but intimately present and available for our ongoing projects of liberation and moral fulfillment. An ingenious Afrofuturist contribution to African American religious ethics."

Victor Anderson, Oberlin Theological School Professor of Ethics and Society; Professor of the Program in African American and Diaspora Studies and Religious Studies, Vanderbilt University Divinity School and College of Arts and Sciences

"To read this groundbreaking book is to accept an invitation to a party thrown by the most revered thinkers, visionaries, and changemakers the world has ever seen, who are reaching across the veil to set us free. All I could do was take my shoes off at the door and listen quietly as I feasted. Surprise! The luminaries conversing in these pages are anything but dour and judgmental. They celebrate the sacred nestled in the heart of the ordinary, making liberation for all seem not only possible but swiftly forthcoming."

Mirabai Starr, author of Wild Mercy and God of Love

"With the erudition and poetic play of Toni Morrison and the pensive, probing humbleness of Howard Thurman, Liberation and the Cosmos is a tour de force honoring the mystical tradition and engaging voices of our elders with a call for liberation, reminding us that the future is now. Dr. Barbara Holmes's moving prose celebrates storytellers, dream keepers, and unique liberators, and embraces ancestors as she grapples with questions of freedom juxtaposed against liberation throughout this prophetic work. Through a series of constructive, imaginative conversations framed by a fertile imagination, contextualized by the 1960s civil rights movement, and including notable ancestral voices of law, literature, liberation-activism, music, education, and politics, Holmes renders a prophetic warning against lethargy in the quest for freedom. Quilting together African thought, liberation thought, and mystical imagination, she invites the reader to move toward moral fulfillment and emancipation. This book is a must-read for anyone who dares to engage spiritual energies and is curious about what it means to live a life of holistic liberation."

Cheryl A. Kirk-Duggan, professor (retired), scholar, clergy, author, and performer