Lifting as They Climb


Black Women Buddhists and Collective Liberation 

by Toni Pressley-Sanon

The lives and writings of six leading Black Buddhist women—Jan Willis, bell hooks, Zenju Earthlyn Manuel, angel Kyodo williams, Spring Washam, and Faith Adiele—reveal new expressions of Buddhism rooted in ancestry, love, and collective liberation.

Lifting as They Climb is a love letter of freedom and self-expression from six Black women Buddhist teachers, conveyed through the voice of author Toni Pressley-Sanon, one of the innumerable people who have benefitted from their wisdom. She explores their remarkable lives and undertakes deep readings of their work, weaving them into the broader tapestry of the African diaspora and the historical struggle for Black liberation.

Black women in the U.S. have adapted Buddhist practice to meet challenges ranging from the injustices of the Jim Crow South to sexual violence, social discrimination, and bias within their Buddhist communities. Using their voices through the practice of memoir and other forms of writing, they have not only realized their own liberation but carried forward the Black tradition of leading others on the path toward collective awakening.

Paperback | 328 pages | Shambhala | 2024

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