Racism: the History of the Problem with special guest, Rev. Dr. Willie Jennings, Professor of Systematic Theology and Africana Studies at Yale Divinity School

The Mt. Level Community Based Partnership for Racial Justice partnered with DurhamCares for a roundtable discussion with Rev. Dr. Willie Jennings about the origins of race and racism, the role the Church has played, and where we go from here. Jennings is the publisher of many books and articles. His book, The Christian Imagination: Theology and the Origins of Race, won the American Academy of Religion Award of Excellence in the Study of Religion in the Constructive-Reflective category the year after it appeared and, in 2015, the Grawemeyer Award in Religion, the largest prize for a theological work in North America. Englewood Review of Books called the work a “theological masterpiece.” His commentary on the Book of Acts, titled Acts: A Commentary, The Revolution of the Intimate (for the Belief Series, Westminster/John Knox) received the Reference Book of the Year Award from The Academy of Parish Clergy in 2018. Jennings spent 30 years in Durham, NC, before joining the faculty at Yale.

If you have questions about future initiatives with the Mt. Level Community Partnership for Racial Justice, email [email protected]. We will send dates soon for the upcoming book discussion on Stand Your Ground: Black Bodies and the Justice of God by Kelly Brown Douglas. We will continue to keep you in the loop about other initiatives with the partnership.

As a response to Dr. Jennings’s call, if you would like to support equitable development in Braggtown, please sign this petition. This petition, which is still live, helped lead Durham County commissioners to grant a two-month delay, instructing the developers to sincerely engage with Braggtown community leaders to revise and improve the impact of the development. Currently, the Braggtown Community Association is negotiating with the developers to incorporate community recommendations into their development plans. Depending on how the negotiations proceed over the next two weeks, we may need your voice at the next public hearing on August 11. If you have any questions, email Reynolds Chapman at [email protected].

If you are a leader in a white church that is seeking to dismantle racism in your own congregation, join us July 28th at 11am. During the meeting, we will hear from each other about present questions and challenges. From there, we will create a journey for white churches to reckon with their own history of racism and seek to dismantle it. You can register for the conversation here.

More by Dr. Jennings:

Divinity Magazine of Duke University (Spring 2015) 

My Anger, God’s Righteous Indignation / Willie Jennings (Response to the Death of George Floyd)