FSU religion faculty member receives early career fellowship

Florida State University Assistant Professor of Religion Jamil Drake has received the McKnight Junior Faculty Fellowship award for the 2019-2020 academic year.

The fellowship program supports an academic year of research and writing by early career researchers and promotes excellence in teaching by underrepresented minorities and women. Fellows receive a one-year sabbatical with a full salary and benefits. 

“I’m really honored to be a recipient of the McKnight Junior Faculty Fellowship,” Drake said.  “I am proud to be part of a wider legacy of scholars who have made significant contributions to their fields through research and teaching.” 

The award is presented by the Florida Education Fund, which partners with colleges and universities to support diversification in higher education. Since 1974, the foundation has awarded more than 190 Junior Faculty Fellowships to historically underrepresented minorities. 

“I’m indebted to the Florida Education Fund for their unwavering commitment to racial diversity and equality that deepens the quality of education at American colleges and universities,” Drake said. “The Florida Education Fund’s mission is an important one that I also work to advance in my commitments as a scholar.”

Drake will spend his fellowship year completing his first book, “To Know the Soul of a People: Folk Studies and the Making of Black Lower-Class Religion in the American South,” under Oxford University Press. He also will complete two essays on medicine and the New Deal in black religious history, as well as begin research on a second book on the history of race, religion and welfare politics in 20th-century America.

During their sabbatical, fellows are required to engage in research and training directly related to their efforts to secure promotion and tenure. While the participating university pays the fellow’s salary, the FEF pays the university $15,000 to assist with necessary teaching replacements and support costs.

Drake plans to travel to Princeton University to present his research at a seminar, as well as Washington, D.C., and North Carolina for additional research for his upcoming projects.

“Jamil Drake is a rising young star in the field of American religious history,” said Aline Kalbian, chair of the Department of Religion. “His selection as a McKnight Junior Faculty Fellow will enable him to continue on his ambitious research trajectory and is a testimony to the important contributions his scholarship is already making.”

Drake said he’s looking forward to this time of research and writing.

“The best part of the academy is the opportunity to confront the historical past to better understand ourselves, our present world and the social problems that perennially plague specific communities,” Drake said. “The academy challenges us to face these pressing social problems for the sake of leaving the world better than we found it.”

For more information on the Florida State University Department of Religion, visit religion.fsu.edu.