This article explores the reception of John Dewey’s philosophical pragmatism by scholars in African American religion and ethics and argues that Dewey’s usefulness in these disciplines has not yet run dry. Cornel West and Eddie S. Glaude Jr. have drawn on Dewey’s work to inform their scholarship on black religion. In response to Glaude’s account of “post-soul politics” (by which he means the contemporary political struggle for racial justice, which is frustrated by excessive deference to the civil rights and black power movements), I suggest that cultivating a virtue of improvisation can facilitate democratic progress. Drawing on Dewey and Ralph Ellison to imagine such a virtue, I argue that improvisation could help democratic moral agents respond well to contemporary crises such as the mass incarceration of black men. I conclude that resources are available in black communities for democratic Christians to use in the struggle against racial injustice.


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pp. 355-381
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