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2021 Festival of Faiths
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The 2021 Festival of Faiths will examine issues of systemic racism in America and the role of spirituality in healing from the trauma of oppression. Sacred Change: Essential Conversations on Faith and Race seeks to celebrate the unique beauty, power and strength of the Black faith experiences while facing the profoundly brutal outcomes of genocide, slavery and “profit at any cost.” Join us November 18-20, 2021, as renowned speakers and artists help us challenge prevailing narratives and explore pathways to truth, repair and hope in framing a future defined by justice.

Schedule

November 18-20, 2021 • Kentucky Center for the Performing Arts

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Keeping Emmett's Casket Open: Racial Reckoning in America and Louisville
7:00 pm to 9:00 pm • Hosted by Simmons College, an HBCU College

Mamie Till’s decision to open the casket of her murdered son Emmett forced America to confront the reality of racial terror and violence it tried to hide from for decades. The open casket ushered in a period of reckoning that led to the Civil Rights Movement. Last year, America in general — and the city of Louisville in particular — was forced again to confront the realities of racial violence with the tragic deaths of Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor and George Floyd, and the months of protest that followed. This session will explore a new era of racial reckoning and, more importantly, will help us discern whether there’s a movement afoot to effect real structural change in America. Panelists will explore the following questions:

  • What did we learn last year about America and our city
  • How is this new period of reckoning similar to previous ones?
  • How and why is this new period different and unique?
  • Have we already lost the momentum sparked by the 2020 protests? Why or why not?
  • Is it too late for America and Louisville to change?
  • What does change look like

Panelists

Rev. Dr. Kevin Cosby, President of Simmons College, Senior Pastor of St. Stephens Baptist Church and author of Getting to the Promised Land Black America and the Unfinished Work of the Civil Rights Movement

Imam Zaid Shakir, Prominent American Muslim scholar and a professor emeritus and board observer of Zaytuna College and in 2016, he presided over the public memorial for Muhammad Ali.

Very Rev. Dr. Kelly Brown Douglas*, Canon Theologian at the National Cathedral, Dean of Episcopal Divinity School at Union Theological Seminary in New York City and author of Resurrection Hope: A Future Where Black Lives Matter

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The Inner Work of Racial Justice with Rhonda Magee: Part I
8:30 am to 9:30 am

The work of racial justice begins with ourselves. When conflict and division are everyday realities, our instincts tell us to close ranks, to find safety of our own tribe, and to blame others. The practice of embodied mindfulness. – paying attention to our thoughts, feelings, and physical sensations in an open, non-judgmental way – increases our emotional resilience, helps us to recognize our unconscious bias, and gives us the space to become less reactive and to choose how we respond to injustice. Magee will show us how to slowdown and reflect on micro-aggressions – how to hold them some objectivity and distance, rather than bury unpleasant experiences so they have a cumulative effect over time. It is only by healing from injustices and dissolving our personal barriers to connection that we develop the ability to view others with compassion and to live in community with people of vastly different backgrounds and viewpoints.

Rhonda Magee, Professor of Law at the University of San Francisco. Also trained in sociology, and mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR). Author of The Inner Work of Racial Justice: Healing Ourselves and Transforming Communities through Mindfulness.

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Multifaith Blood Drive with the American Red Cross
9:30 am to 4:30 pm

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Black Faith’s Encounter with Black Trauma, Pain and Nihilism
10:00 am to Noon • Hosted by Baptist Seminary of Kentucky

The legacy of Black faith is often admired as an enduring hope, an abiding strength, and a dogged determination that has sustained African Americans for centuries. But there is something amiss about this story of Black faith. The very resiliency and creativity of Black faith — so admired and so much more accepted by white America than other practices of Black survival and resistance — has always been forged in the crucible of pain, trauma, and nihilism. Rather than romanticizing and trivializing Black faith, this session will explore how Black faith grapples with multi-generational violence, social displacement, crippling despair, and a sense of meaninglessness.

Moderator and Presenter
Dr. Lewis Brogdon, Research Professor and Director of the Institute for Black Church Studies and author of Hope on the Brink: Understanding the Emergence of Nihilism in Black America.

Co-Presenters
Sheila Wise Rowe*, Executive Director of The Rehoboth House, an international healing and reconciliation ministry and author of Healing Racial Trauma: The Road to Resilience 
Dr. Johnny Bernard Hill, Author of Prophetic Rage: A Postcolonial Theology of Liberation.

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The Ghosts and Growing Edges of Black Faith: Intersectional and Interreligious Conversations
1:30 pm to 3:30 pm • Hosted by University of Louisville Pan African Studies Department and Anne Braden Institute

In many ways, religion has been complicit in the oppression of Black people and often used and abused to justify not only systemic racism but patriarchy, sexism, and homophobia. Young people — in particular those who struggled on the streets this past summer of 2020 — look to different faith traditions to foster meaning in their lives and to inspire social movements. Black faith is not monolithic. This session will lean into some emergent religious experiences and spirituality as tools for liberation and inspiration for the social change movement.

Moderator and Presenter
Dr. Michael Brandon McCormack, Professor in the Departments of Pan-African Studies and Comparative Humanities at the University of Louisville and Director of the Anne Braden Institute for Social Justice Research.

Co-Presenters
Rev. Dr. Starsky Wilson, President & CEO of the Children’s Defense Fund and Co-Chair of the Ferguson Commission and New Orleans Native and Visionary
Sunni Patterson, an internationally acclaimed Poet, Performer, and an Initiated Priestess and Minister.
Alexis Pauline Gumbs*, author of Undrowned: Black Feminist Lessons from Marine Mammals, co-founder of the Mobile Homecoming Trust

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After Hours: Artistic Expressions of Racial Healing and Repair
7:00 pm to 9:00 pm

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The Inner Work of Racial Justice with Rhonda Magee: Part II
8:30 am to 9:30 am

The work of racial justice begins with ourselves. When conflict and division are everyday realities, our instincts tell us to close ranks, to find safety of our own tribe, and to blame others. The practice of embodied mindfulness. – paying attention to our thoughts, feelings, and physical sensations in an open, non-judgmental way – increases our emotional resilience, helps us to recognize our unconscious bias, and gives us the space to become less reactive and to choose how we respond to injustice. Magee will show us how to slowdown and reflect on micro-aggressions – how to hold them some objectivity and distance, rather than bury unpleasant experiences so they have a cumulative effect over time. It is only by healing from injustices and dissolving our personal barriers to connection that we develop the ability to view others with compassion and to live in community with people of vastly different backgrounds and viewpoints.

Rhonda Magee, Professor of Law at the University of San Francisco. Also trained in sociology, and mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR). Author of The Inner Work of Racial Justice: Healing Ourselves and Transforming Communities through Mindfulness.

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Truth and Repair
10:00 am to Noon • Hosted by Spalding University and Louisville Presbyterian Theological Seminary

Based on a current understanding of the spiritual climate perpetuated by systemic racism, this final session of Sacred Change: Essential Conversations on Faith and Race will offer strategies and practices to faithfully engage in the work of repair, both as individuals and in community. Howard Thurman observed that such repair applies “not only to the rupture of human relationships but also to the disharmony within oneself created by inner conflict." Interactive exercises will guide us as we explore truths that hold possibilities of personal transformation and consider faith-based practices that point to human relationships rooted in racial equity, justice, and harmony.

Co-Presenters
Minister Chandra Goforth Irvin, Executive Director of the Center for Peace and Spiritual Renewal, Spalding University
Rev. Dr. Alton B. Pollard III*, President and Professor of Religion and Culture, Louisville Presbyterian Theological Seminary
Stachelle Bussey, Executive Director of The Hope Buss
Rev. Dr. Jamesetta Ferguson, Senior Pastor of St. Peter's United Church of Christ, author of Urban Ministry: Revitalizing a Church and Impacting a Community

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Walk of Truth and Repair
12:30 pm to 1:30 pm • Hosted with The (Un)Known Project

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Speakers

Dr. Lewis Brogdon

Rev. Dr. Kevin Cosby

Very Rev. Dr. Kelly Brown Douglas*

Hannah Drake

Alexis Pauline Gumbs*

Dr. Johnny Bernard Hill

Minister Chandra Goforth Irvin

Rhonda Magee

Dr. Michael Brandon McCormack

Sunni Patterson

Rev. Dr. Alton B. Pollard III*

Sheila Wise Rowe*

Imam Zaid Shakir

Rev. Dr. Starsky Wilson

*speaker participating virtually

Festival Pass

$150
  • Access to all sessions & events

Single Session Ticket

$25each
  • Access to one session

LOCATION


Kentucky Center for the Performing Arts
501 W Main St
Louisville, KY 40202


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THANK YOU TO OUR PARTNERS

The Festival of Faiths is a nationally acclaimed interfaith event of music, poetry, film, art and dialogue featuring a diverse lineup of spiritual leaders, teachers and practitioners.

Festival programming honors the union between thinking globally and acting locally.

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