Josef Sorett is an Associate Professor of Religion and African-American Studies at Columbia University, where he also directs the Center on African-American Religion, Sexual Politics and Social Justice (CARSS). As an interdisciplinary scholar of religion and race in the Americas, Josef employs primarily historical and literary approaches to the study of religion in black communities and cultures in the United States. His first book, Spirit in the Dark: A Religious History of Racial Aesthetics (Oxford University Press, 2016) illumines how religion has figured in debates about black art and culture across the 20th century. Josef's second book - tentatively titled The Holy Holy Black: The Ironies of an African American Secular - is also in contract with Oxford UP. Additionally, Josef is editing an anthology, The Sexual Politics of Black Churches.

Josef’s research has been supported with grants from the Woodrow Wilson Foundation, the Louisville Institute for the Study of American Religion, the Fund for Theological Education, and Yale University’s Institute for Sacred Music, where he’ll be a senior fellow during the 2016-2017 academic year. CARSS’s work has received generous support from the Arcus, Carpenter and Ford foundations. Josef's scholarship has been published in academic journals and anthologies; and his writing and commentary have also appeared in a range of popular media outlets, including ABC News, the Huffington Post, New York Times, and the Washington Post, as well as on the BBC and NPR.

Josef received his Ph.D. in African American Studies from Harvard University; and he holds a B.S. from Oral Roberts University, and an M.Div. from Boston University.

You can find out more about his work at and follow him on twitter @josefsorett


Associate Director

Derrick McQueen earned his Ph. D.  in Homiletics and New Testament at Union Theological Seminary (NYC), where he served as the representative for VERITAS the LGBTQ Initiative. He also received an M. Div. from Union; and a B.A. from Drew University. Mr. McQueen has been actively involved in work for LGBTQ inclusion in churches and society, facilitating dialogues and serving on the boards of such organizations as Presbyterian Welcome, That All May Freely Serve, More Light Presbyterians and Auburn Seminary. Recently he served as the Moderator of the Presbytery of New York City. Since 2010 Mr. McQueen has played an integral role in the preliminary work that led to the grant-support for CARSS.  You can find out more about him at