Wallace D. Best


“The history of the American Negro is the most intimate part of American history.” ​
- Ralph Ellison

Langston Hughes, Thinker About Religion

My Articles

“Why not write a good, strong book.” ​
- Dr. Latimer

Langston’s Salvation: American Religion and the Bard of Harlem

Winner of the 2018 AAR Book Award for Excellence in the Study of Religion

Langston’s Salvation offers a fascinating exploration into the religious thought of Langston Hughes. Known for his poetry, plays, and social activism, the importance of religion in Hughes’ work has historically been ignored or dismissed. This book puts this aspect of Hughes work front and center, placing it into the wider context of twentieth-century American and African American religious cultures. Best brings to life the religious orientation of Hughes work, illuminating how this powerful figure helped to expand the definition of African American religion during this time.

Passionately Human, No Less Divine: Religion and Culture in Black Chicago, 1915-1952

Winner of the 2006 Illinois State Historical Society Award

The book illustrates how the great migration launched a new sacred order among blacks in the city that reflected aspects of both Southern black religion and modern city life. This new sacred order was also largely female as African American women constituted more than 70 percent of the membership in most black Protestant churches.