Larycia Hawkins is the Abd el-Kader Visiting Faculty Fellow at the Institute for Advanced Studies in Culture and a lecturer at the University of Virginia where she is a political scientist, public speaker, and embodied solidarity activist. Dr. Hawkins’s research and scholarship regards intersectionality of sociopolitical movements, economic and social justice, and the confluence of race, religion, and politics, particularly how black cultural and religious narratives and rhetoric influence political agendas. Prior to coming to the University, Hawkins was an associate professor, and founder and director of the Peace & Conflict Studies Certificate Program at Wheaton College.
Framing the Faith-Based Initiative: Black Church Elites and the Black Policy Agenda
Hawkins’s dissertation asked: Is the black agenda collective or disparate? Evidence of a disconnect between black mass opinion and the policy agenda of black political elites necessitates scholarly inquiry. For example, 81% of African Americans and Hispanics are favorably disposed toward government-funding of faith-based social services, higher than the 68% of White Americans and 75% of the national sample registering similar support. Yet, the legislative agendas of the Congressional Black Caucus and the NAACP reveal the active efforts of black political and civic elites to oppose the Faith-Based and Community Initiative. Hawkins’s dissertation examined this disconnect via the black policy agenda with reference to how the black church, the seminal institution of black society, figures into this puzzle. Her dissertation also determined which policy images contribute to the black political dynamic with regard to the Faith-Based and Community Initiative. Specifically, Hawkins demonstrated how black pastors define the Faith-Based and Community Initiative and how pastoral definitions of political issues influence the broader black political process, including black politicians and the black policy agenda.