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From Selma to St. Louis: Theology of Martin Luther King Jr., and the Pursuit of Justice 50 Years Later

April 17-18, 2018

Join us for a public symposium on the commemoration of Martin Luther King Jr.'s legacy in celebration of Saint Louis University's bicentennial.

The Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr.

The Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. spoke at SLU in 1964.

Schedule of Events

Tuesday, April 17

Performance and Opening Keynote

Time: 7 to 8:30 p.m
Location: Sinquefield State Room, Dubourg Hall Room 409

Featuring Jeffrey McCune, Ph.D., Washington University in St. Louis, and J. Kameron Carter, Ph.D., Duke Divinity School.

The evening will begin with Jeffrey McCune, Ph.D., who will offer up excerpts of rarely orated selections from King's Saint Louis University speech, accompanied by music which addresses liberation and justice. McCune will be followed by J. Kameron Carter, Ph.D., who will offer a reflection on King’s 1964 Saint Louis University speech, attending to the question, ‘what’s at stake in our current context given King’s SLU speech?’

Wednesday, April 18

King as Public Intellectual

Time: 12 to 1:30 p.m. (Lunch will be provided)
Location: Boileau Hall
A panel featuring Dwight N. Hopkins, Ph.D., University of Chicago Divinity School, and M. Shawn Copeland, Ph.D., Boston College.

Dwight N. Hopkins, Ph.D., and M. Shawn Copeland, Ph.D., will concentrate on King as public intellectual and social activist. They will take up questions of race, economic relations, and on-going civil rights campaigns in the modern world in light of King’s legacy, 50 years after his assassination.

King and Activism

Time: 4-5:30 p.m.
Location: Busch Student Center
An Open Dialogue with the Rev. Starsky Wilson, president and CEO of the Deaconess Foundation; Tef Poe, co-founder of Hands Up United; and Kayla Reed, prganizer and civil rights activist. Moderated by Lerone A. Martin, Ph.D., Washington University in St. Louis.

This panel and workshop, featuring Rev. Starsky Wilson, Tef Poe and Kayla Reed, and moderated by Lerone A. Martin, Ph.D., of Washington University, will discuss how contemporary movements for racial justice, especially within the region and at SLU, draw from, question and advance King's thought and practice.

Evening Chapel Service

Time: 7:30—8:30 p.m.
Location: St. Francis Xavier College Church, Saint Louis University
Join us for worship and preaching with the Rev. Eboni Marshall Turman, Ph.D.,Yale Divinity School, and Dan White, S.J., pastor of St. Francis Xavier College Church. 

This concluding service will return to the place where King found his voice and perfected his craft: the pulpit. Dan White, S.J., will offer welcoming remarks to set the tone for the evening, followed by choir selections in the Black Church tradition. In a culminating sermon, Rev. Eboni Marshall Turman, Ph.D., will offer a homily in the Kingian Tradition of justice and love.

Keynote Speakers 

J. Kameron Carter, Ph.D.

J. Kameron Carter
J. Kameron Carter

J. Kameron Carter is an associate professor of theology, English and Africana studies at Duke University Divinity School with appointments in the English, and the gender, sexuality and feminist studies departments. He works in African diaspora studies, using theological and religious studies concepts, philosophy and aesthetics, and literatures and poetries of the black diaspora. Driving his work are questions pertaining to the theory of blackness as entailing an alternative practice of the sacred, what might be understood as “parahuman” modes of life in the interspecies blur where the human, the animal and the earth come into view in their an-original togetherness; the sociality of life (together) is Carter’s concern. Which is to say, he pursues black study as esoteric practice, a fleshly mystics of communion.

Carter’s book Race: A Theological Account appeared in 2008 (New York: Oxford UP). Having lectured widely both nationally and internationally, he’s the editor of Religion and the Future of Blackness (2013) and the author of numerous essays, the latest being his forthcoming essay “Black Malpractice (An Ante-American Poetics).” His next book, Black Rapture: A Poetics of the Sacred, is in its final stages of preparation and is the first volume of a trilogy on blackness and the sacred that goes under the general name Fugitive Faith.

Rev. Eboni Marshall Turman, Ph.D.

Rev. Eboni Marshall Turman
Rev. Eboni Marshall Turman, Ph.D.

Rev. Eboni Marshall Turman, Ph.D., is assistant professor of theology and African-American religion at Yale University Divinity School in New Haven, Conn. With a decidedly womanist perspective, Turman is a leading scholarly millennial voice offering moral perspective on issues of race, gender and religion. She is the co-chair of the Women of Color Scholarship, Teaching and Activism group of the American Academy of Religion, and co-convener of the African/African-American Working and Interest groups of the Society of Christian Ethics. A first-career concert dancer and ordained National Baptist preacher, Turman holds degrees in philosophy, theology and Christian ethics from Fordham University and Union Theological Seminary in the City of New York, respectively.

Her research interests span the varieties of 20th century U.S. theological liberalisms, most especially Black and womanist theological, social ethical and theo-aesthetic traditions. In addition to several journal articles and book chapters, she is the author of Toward a Womanist Ethic of Incarnation: Black Bodies, the Black Church and the Council of Chalcedon. Her current book project is tentatively titled, Black Woman’s Burden: Sexism, Violence and the Black Church

Performers and Panelists

Jeffrey McCune, Ph.D.
Jeffery McCune
Jeffery Q. McCune Jr., Ph.D.

Jeffrey Q. McCune Jr. is an associate professor of African and African-American studies and Women, Gender and Sexuality studies at Washington University in St. Louis. He is a scholar, public speaker and performer. He is the former director of the Mellon Mays Undergraduate Fellowship Program.

McCune is the author of the award-winning book Sexual Discretion: Black Masculinity and the Politics of Passing. He is presently working on two book projects. The first, a full-length manuscript, Read!:An Experiment in Seeing Black, and the other titled On Kanye: A Philosophy of Black Genius. McCune has received international recognition for a course related to the latter. In addition to these works, McCune is also in the process of collecting ethnographic and archival material to complete a play, AFTERLIFE: An Archive of Violence, which explores the day-to-day impact of state-sanctioned violence on individuals within black and brown communities. McCune has been featured on Left of Black, SiriusXM's Joe Madison ShowHuffPost Live and a guest expert on Bill Nye Saves The World

Dwight Hopkins, Ph.D.
Dwight Hopkins
Dwight N. Hopkins, Ph.D.
Dwight N. Hopkins is the Alexander Campbell Professor at the University of Chicago Divinity School. He is the author of Black Theology: Essays on Global Perspectives (2017) and Black Theology: Essays on Gender Perspectives (2017). Hopkins initiated and managed a 14-country network to think about the practices of building healthy communities and healthy individuals in communities. With representatives from Hawaii, Fiji, Australia, Japan, India, England, Ghana, Zimbabwe, Botswana, South Africa, Cuba, Jamaica, Brazil and the United States, the network forged learning about neighbors through neighbors sharing their cultures. Indeed, in international transactions of business, politics and religions, one of the greatest challenges is lack of cultural understanding. Restated, cultures facilitate harmony and balance for the purpose of another world is possible in emerging markets. A higher vision and transcendent values glue the global together spiritually with wealth management.
M. Shawn Copeland, Ph.D.
M. Shawn Copeland
M. Shawn Copeland, Ph.D.

M. Shawn Copeland is a professor of systematic theology at Boston College, where she teaches graduate students preparing for the doctorate in theology, as well as undergraduate students in the interdisciplinary program in African and African Diaspora Studies (AADS) and in the PULSE Program. An award-winning writer, Copeland is the author or editor of six books including Enfleshing Freedom: Body, Race and Being, The Subversive Power of Love: The Vision of Henriette Delille, and more than 125 articles, book chapters, reviews and blog entries on spirituality, theological anthropology, political theology, social suffering gender and race.

Since 2003, Copeland has taught at Boston College, where she earned her doctoral degree; she has taught at Marquette University and at Yale University Divinity School, and she has held visiting positions at Harvard Divinity School. Copeland has lectured internationally and widely in the United States in parish settings, seminaries, colleges and universities.

Copeland is a former Convener of the Black Catholic Theological Symposium (BCTS), an interdisciplinary learned association of Black Catholic scholars, and she is recognized as one of the most important influences in North America in drawing attention to issues surrounding African-American Catholics. She was first the African-American and first African-American woman to serve as president of the Catholic Theological Society of America (CTSA). In November 2017, the University of Dayton conferred upon her their Marianist Award, which is presented “to a Catholic scholar, author and theologian who has made an outstanding contribution to the intellectual life.” 

Rev. Starsky Wilson
Rev. Starsky Wilson
Rev. Starsky D. Wilson

Rev. Starsky D. Wilson is a pastor, philanthropist and activist pursuing God's vision of community marked by justice, peace and love. He is president and CEO of Deaconess Foundation and pastor of Saint John's Church (The Beloved Community). Through Saint John's, Wilson has led congregational activism on myriad issues, including youth violence prevention, Medicaid expansion, public school accreditation, voter mobilization, capping payday lending and raising the minimum wage. In 2014, former Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon appointed Wilson co-chair of the Ferguson Commission, a group of 16 citizens empowered to study the underlying conditions and make public policy recommendations to help the region progress through issues exposed by the tragic death of Michael Brown Jr. On Sept. 14, 2015, they released the ground-breaking Forward Through Ferguson: A Path Toward Racial Equity report, calling for sweeping changes in policing, the courts, child well-being and economic mobility. 

Tef Poe
Poe Tef
Tef Poe

Kareem Jackson, better known by his stage name Tef Poe (short for Teflon Poetix), is an American rapper, musician and activist from St. Louis, Missouri. Through his uncompromising poetic rhymes and lyrical delivery, emcee Tef Poe is proving to the music industry that he is heir to the throne.

Poe harbors the quintessence of a natural artist and entertainer. He proposed his growth garnering a reputation for being one of St. Louis’ elite battle rappers affording him numerous hip hop awards such as Lyricist of the Year from the Evening Whirl. He is one of the co-founders of the Hands Up United movement. Poe has consistently advocated grass-roots involvement in improving the lives of African Americans and in racial justice within and outside the United States. In his art and activism, he insists on the value of local people taking charge of conversations about their own communities rather than relying on national organizations.

In an interview, he explained: "And all too often, these conversations are intellectualized and moved completely away from the people who aren’t allowed to come into the rooms and intellectualize the different theories surrounding racism. But they did show up in the middle of the street on West Florissant when a militarized police force was encroaching on their neighbors. So many people in pop culture are speaking out now, but they are not speaking in terms of an all-out need for a political revolution in America for Black people."

Lerone A. Martin, Ph.D.
Martin Lerone, Ph.D.
Lerone A. Martin, Ph.D.

Lerone A. Martin is an associate professor at the John C. Danforth Center on Religion and Politics. Martin joined the faculty as assistant professor of religion and politics in 2014, after a one-year postdoctoral fellowship with the center.

Martin earned his B.A. from Anderson University in Anderson, Ind., and his Master of Divinity Degree from Princeton Theological Seminary before completing his Ph.D. at Emory University in 2011. From 2010-2013, Martin was the assistant professor of American Religious History and Culture at Eden Theological Seminary in St. Louis, Mo. where he taught courses in American and African-American religious history.

His first book project, Preaching on Wax: The Phonograph and the Making of Modern African American Religion (New York University Press, 2014), tracks the role of the phonograph in the shaping of African-American religion, culture and politics during the first half of the 20th century.

Dan White, S.J.
Dan White, SJ
Dan White, S.J.

Dan White, S.J., a native of Wisconsin, is pastor at St. Francis Xavier College Church. He was an associate pastor at St. Francis Xavier Parish in Kansas City and pastor of St. Martin de Porres Parish in Belize City, Belize.

White was assistant to the novice master at the Jesuit novitiate in Grand Couteau, La., before coming to St. Francis Xavier College Church.

White is also a member of the Board of Trustees of De Smet Jesuit High School.


Jonathan Smith, Ph.D.
Jonathan Smith, Ph.D.
Jonathan Smith, Ph.D.

Jonathan Smith, Ph.D., is a member of the faculty of the African-American Studies Department and the vice president for Diversity and Community Engagement at Saint Louis University. 

Smith has been a fierce advocate for programming that promotes cultural competency, literacy and fluency; racial, gender and cultural support; and connecting SLU to the greater St. Louis community. He maintains regular engagement with students and with faculty — in groups and one-on-one meetings.

In 2015, Smith was appointed as the first special assistant to the president for diversity and community engagement, which was renamed chief diversity officer last fall.