Delores Williams Obituary, Death – Delores Seneva Williams was an American Presbyterian theologian best known for her work Sisters in the Wilderness and for playing a pivotal part in the development of womanist theology. Her writings covered the interplay between racial, gendered, and class oppressions and how it has affected black women’s lives. Williams stated that black women’s oppression enriches the examination of oppression in theology, as opposed to feminist theology as it was largely performed by white women, and black theology as it was predominantly done by black men.
Sisters in the Wilderness, one of her books, contributed to the development of womanist theology. Williams largely uses a rereading of the biblical character Hagar in order to highlight the significance of reproductive rights and surrogacy in black women’s subjugation. Williams presents a theological answer to the defiling of black women, according to Aaron McEmrys. Womanism is an approach to ethics, theology, and daily life that is rooted in the experiences of African-American women.
A contemporary of Williams’s named Alice Walker first used the term “womanism” in her 1979 short story “Coming Apart” and later in her 1983 essay collection In Search of Our Mothers’ Garden. After receiving her Ph.D. from Union Theological Seminary, Delores Williams was appointed to the position of Paul Tillich Professor of Feminist Theology there. The Paul Tillich Professor of Theology and Culture became her new title. She earned the title of Professor Emerita after retiring.
William’s works contributed to the growth of Womanist Theology. Cheryl A. Kirk-Duggan describes her 1977 article, “Womanist Theology: Black Women’s Voices,” as a “seminal point” in the field’s growth. Sisters in the Wilderness: The Challenge of Womanist God-Talk was one of her 1993 publications. Williams authored numerous book chapters and articles. She wrote the ninth chapter of Ann Braude’s 2004 book, Transforming the Faiths of our Fathers: Women who Changed American Religion.
Alice Walker is credited with coining the word “womanism,” which emerged from Black Feminism. Delores S. Williams stated that while Black Feminism and Womanism are both “organically tied” to white feminism, most white feminist-led movements typically omit Black Feminist and Womanist issues and experiences.
Achieving individual and relational equality with white men as a method of eradicating sexism was the focus of many white women and frequently the most widely held ideas of feminism, although some white women pushed for more radical critiques of oppression that included race. For Black women, equality would not only mean the abolition of racism and classism, issues that feminism did not directly address, but it would also call for a new definition of equality rather than one that equates it with the standing of white men in society.
Womanism is a way of thinking that aims to pay attention to the uniqueness and particularity of black women’s experiences in order to develop strategies and ideas that are suitable for their circumstances. The womanist movement sought to enhance “self, community, and society” as well as remove injustices by helping black women reconnect with their religious and cultural heritage.