Ross, Rosetta E.

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ROSS, Rosetta E.

PERSONAL: Born in Dorchester, SC; daughter of Thomas H. and Bertha L. T. Ross; married Ronald S. Bonner (a manager). Education: College of Charleston, B.A., 1975; Howard University, M.A., 1978; Emory University, M.Div., 1989, Ph.D., 1995. Religion: United Methodist. Hobbies and other interests: Drama, reading.

ADDRESSES: Offıce—Spelman College, Department of Religion, 350 Spelman Lane, Atlanta, GA 30314.

CAREER: Author, ethicist, educator, and ordained Methodist minister. Interdenominational Theological Center, Atlanta, GA, assistant professor of ethics, 1994-99; United Theological Seminary, New Brighton, MN, McVay Associate Professor of Christian Ethics, 1999-2003; Spelman College, Atlanta, associate professor and department chair of philosophy and religious studies, 2003—. Acting director of black church studies, Emory University's Chandler School of Theology; former resident scholar, Institute for Ecumenical and Cultural Research.

MEMBER: American Academy of Religion, Society for the Study of Black Religion, Society of Christian Ethics, Southern Association of Women Historians.

AWARDS, HONORS: Association of Theological Schools faculty grant; named Women of Color Scholar, United Methodist Church, 1989-93.


Witnessing and Testifying: Black Women, Religion, and Civil Rights, Fortress Press (Minneapolis, MN), 2003.

SIDELIGHTS: In Witnessing and Testifying: Black Women, Religion, and Civil Rights, Rosetta E. Ross, a Methodist minister and professor of religion, explores the civil rights contributions made by seven African American women whose religious convictions led them to become champions of civil rights. The six Christians and one Muslim—Fannie Lou Hamer, Victoria Way DeLee, Diane Nash, Ruby Doris Smith Robinson, Ella Baker, Septima Clark, and Clara Muhammad—"had an integral relationship with God that expressed itself in activism aimed at changing the world," remarked Noel Leo Erskine in Theology Today. Ross's "detailed and concise biographies," assessed Beth Titus in Currents in Theology and Mission, provide insight on their lives, their faith, and their attitudes toward civil rights, "demonstrating that for these women their activism is an expression of their faith values." The book "adds to the body of civil rights literature rich biographical insight," commented Helena R. Henderson in Soujourners.

Experiences with racism and racial hatred drew each of the women into the civil rights movement, noted Henderson. "Chicago native Diane Nash, for example, was a high school beauty queen unfamiliar with the realities of racist Southern life," but who later experienced it first-hand, according to Henderson.

In what Thomas J. Davis in Library Journal called an "engaging and provocative discussion," Ross puts the civil rights movement into context with the pragmatic religious convictions of the seven biographical subjects, and discusses the movement's "legacy not only in battling racial oppression but in confronting inequality in its sundry, insidious guises." "Ross," commented Erskine, "breaks new ground as she narrates for us the contributions and religious convictions of these women," who often had little more than their faith to sustain them through hardship and opposition.



Directory of American Scholars, ninth edition, Gale (Detroit, MI), 1999.


Currents in Theology and Mission, April, 2004, Beth Titus, review of Witnessing and Testifying: Black Women, Religion, and Civil Rights, p. 130.

Library Journal, November 1, 2002, Ann Burns, review of Witnessing and Testifying, p. 115; January, 2003, Thomas J. Davis, review of Witnessing and Testifying, p. 120.

New Pittsburgh Courier, June 19, 1999, Linda Greer, "Women of Color Scholars Program Celebrates Ten Years in Theological Education," p. B5.

Sojourners, May-June, 2003, Helena R. Henderson, "Saving Grace," review of Witnessing and Testifying, p. 58.

Theology Today, July, 2004, Noel Leo Erskine, review of Witnessing and Testifying, p. 235.


Institute for Ecumenical and Cultural Research Web site, (September 9, 2004).