Dr. Michael W. Waters is the founder and Lead Pastor of the Abundant Life African Methodist Episcopal Church in Dallas, Texas. A pastor, professor, award-winning author, activist, and social commentator, Waters’ words of hope and empowerment inspire national and international audiences.
Dr. Waters has appeared on ABC Nightline, AJ+, BBC Newsnight, CBS This Morning, C-SPAN, Fox Soul, MSNBC Live, NPR, The NBC Nightly News, PBS Newshour, and VICE on HBO. He has also been featured or mentioned in/on The Associated Press, The Chicago Tribune, The Christian Century, CNN, the Dallas Business Journal, D Magazine, Ebony Magazine, Epitome Magazine, Essence Magazine, Faith and Leadership, GQ Magazine, The Huffington Post, Last Week Tonight with John Oliver, The Library Journal, The Los Angeles Times, The New Yorker, The New York Times, Publishers Weekly, Reading Religion, Reuters, SiriusXM, Sojourners Magazine, Texas Monthly, The Today Show, Yahoo! News, and The Washington Post among other media outlets. Dr. Waters has addressed such esteemed bodies as the Muhammad Ali Center, American Airlines, Duke University, Facebook, the National Museum of African American History and Culture, the United States House of Representatives, and the World Methodist Conference.
A best-selling, national award-winning author, Dr. Waters is a three-time winner of the prestigious Wilbur Award for Stakes Is High: Race, Faith, and Hope for America, named Non-fiction Book of the Year, and for For Beautiful Black Boys Who Believe in a Better World and Liberty’s Civil Rights Road Trip, both named Children’s Book of the Year. Presented annually since 1949 by the Religion Communicators Council, the Wilbur Awards recognize excellence in the communication of religious issues, values, and themes in public secular media and includes among its’ past winners Morgan Freeman, Oprah Winfrey, Jane Pauley, Mister Rogers, CBS Sunday Morning, ABC’s 20/20, Meet the Press, Vanity Fair, and The New York Times. He is also the recipient of the Children’s Book Council’s Youth Book Prize for Social Justice, among other literary honors. Publisher’s Weekly calls his latest non-fiction book Something in the Water: A 21st Century Civil Rights Odyssey a “blistering critique of white supremacy and racial injustice” that “should be a wake-up call to Americans in general and the church in particular.”
Dr. Waters is the vice chair of Foot Soldiers Park and Educational Center in Selma, Alabama, and an executive board member of the Perkins School of Theology at Southern Methodist University (SMU) in Dallas, Texas. He earned bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral degrees with honors at SMU where he founded the SMU Civil Rights Pilgrimage and presently serves as an adjunct professor teaching doctoral and masters-level courses in ministry and popular culture and Black church studies. He is also a principal with MYWaters Consulting, LLC, which offers racial equity training, consulting, and educational resources to leaders in business, organizations, and schools.
The recipient of numerous honors, Dr. Waters has received formal commendations from The White House and Special Congressional Recognition for Service and Leadership from the U. S. House of Representatives. He is a recipient of the Texas Legislative Black Caucus’ Outstanding Texan Award, the DFW Council on American-Islamic Relations’ Community Leader of the Year Award, the Center for Theological Activism’s Pastor of the Year Award, the Dallas Peace and Justice Center’s Peacemaker of the Year Award, and the South Dallas Business and Professional Women’s Club’s Humanitarian of the Year Award. He is also a recipient of the B’nai B’rith Harold M. Kaufman Memorial Award in Social Ethics and Southern Methodist University’s Distinguished Alumni Emerging Leader Award. An Emerson Collective Fellow, Dr. Waters is presently conducting research on storytelling and democracy.
Dr. Waters is married to Attorney Yulise Reaves Waters. They are the proud parents of four children.