Thursday, November 18 

7:00 pm to 9:00 pm

Keeping Emmett’s Casket Open: Racial Reckoning in America and Louisville
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


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

Very Rev. Dr. Kelly Brown Douglas (participating virtually), 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

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.

Moderated by Renee Shaw.

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discussion guide

Friday, November 19

8:30 am to 9:30 am

The Inner Work of Racial Justice with Rhonda Magee: Part I

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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discussion guide

10:00 am to Noon

Black Faith’s Encounter with Black Trauma, Pain and Nihilism
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.

Dr. Johnny Bernard Hill, founder and president of the World House Forum in Raleigh, N.C., senior pastor of Gethsemane Baptist Church and author of Prophetic Rage: A Postcolonial Theology of Liberation.
Sheila Wise Rowe (participating virtually), Executive Director of The Rehoboth House, an international healing and reconciliation ministry and author of Healing Racial Trauma: The Road to Resilience

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1:30 pm to 3:30 pm