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The Reverend Dr. Jonathan C. Augustine

Jonathan C. Augustine (a/k/a “Jay Augustine”) is a pastor and professor, as well as an author and advocate. He is part of a group of national social justice leaders who speak for the equality of all human beings, while advocating for policies of diversity, inclusion, and belonging. 


A Pastor for All People

As a pastor, Dr. Augustine has earned a well-deserved reputation for bringing the church into the community and community into the church, in addressing pressing social issues. Since May 2019, he has served as the senior pastor of St. Joseph AME Church (Durham, NC), while simultaneously serving, since January 2017, as the general chaplain of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc. Since his appointment to St. Joseph, new ministries have been birthed and many new members have joined the congregation, as it developed an outward-facing social justice focus. In addition to Dr. Augustine’s powerful prophetic preaching, under his leadership, St. Joseph has welcomed numerous social justice icons, including Vice President Kamala Harris, Reverend Dr. William J. Barber, II, Honorable Andrew Young, and Reverend Dr. James A. Forbes, Sr. Prior to serving St. Joseph, Dr. Augustine was senior pastor at Historic St. James AME Church, in downtown New Orleans, the city’s first predominately Black, Protestant church and the denomination’s oldest congregation in the Deep South.


A Professor and Scholar

Augustine is also a law professor and reconciliation scholar. Prior to his current service, at North Carolina Central University Law School, he taught as an adjunct professor at Southern University Law Center. His scholarly publications, on issues like immigration reform, environmental justice, and voting rights, appear in journals including the Connecticut Public Interest Law Journal, Hastings Race and Poverty Law Journal, Louisiana Law Review, Loyola Law Review, and the Southern California Interdisciplinary Law Journal. His writings have also been cited by the Louisiana Supreme Court in published opinion. Dr. Augustine currently serves as a missional strategist with the Duke University Center for Reconciliation.      



As the author or editor of four books, Augustine is currently under contract completing When Prophets Preach: Leadership and the Politics of the Pulpit (Fortress Press, 2022). His current book is Called to Reconciliation: How the Church Can Model Justice, Diversity and Inclusion (Baker Academic, 2022). His first book was The Keys Are Being Passed: Race, Law, Religion and the Legacy of the Civil Rights Movement (ROM Publishing, LLC, 2014) and, in his capacity as general chaplain of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc., during the COVID-19 global pandemic, he also edited Leadership in Times of Crisis: Alpha Phi Alpha’s Minister’s as Prophets, Priests and Kings (ROM Publishing, LLC, 2021).     

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An Accomplished Advocate 


Prior to becoming a law professor, Augustine served as a nationally noted civil rights litigator. He successfully litigated and settled one of the oldest school desegregation cases in the United States, originally litigated by Thurgood Marshall, before his appointment to the U.S. Supreme Court. In working as of counsel with the Southern Coalition for Social Justice, Augustine also co-authored an amicus curie brief filed with the United States Supreme Court in Brnovich v. Democratic National Committee (2021), a case brought under the Voting Rights Act of 1965. He is a member of the Louisiana State Bar Association, and admitted to practice law before several federal courts, including the United States Supreme Court.

A Nationally Recognized Leader 


Augustine is the recipient of many notable awards, including President Barack Obama’s Lifetime Achievement Award (2016), the Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc. “Outstanding Alumni Brother of the Year” Award (2017), Ten Outstanding Young Americans Award (2004) and Ebony Magazine’s “30 Leaders of the Future” (2001). He earned a B.A., in economics, from Howard University, before serving as a decorated, active-duty infantry officer in the United States Army. Immediately after his military service, Dr. Augustine earned his law degree from Tulane University and served as a law clerk to then-Associate Justice Bernette Joshua Johnson at the Louisiana Supreme Court. After holding publicly elected and gubernatorially appointed office in Louisiana, he accepted the calling to ordained ministry and earned his Master of Divinity from United Theological Seminary, before completing a fellowship for further study at Princeton Theological Seminary. Augustine also earned his doctorate from Duke University.


Dr. Jonathan C. Augustine serves as an elected member of the Judicial Council (Supreme Court) of the African Methodist Episcopal Church and is married Michelle Burks Augustine. Together, they have two children.       

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