Social Justice Institute: Poverty, Race and Sexuality

Screen Shot 2015-03-17 at 1.18.40 PMIt was the prophetic voices of ecumenical faith leaders that became the catalyst for the Civil Rights movement for a ‘Righteous America’. These faith leaders used their pulpits and sacred spaces to address the concerns for the least advantaged amongst them. As an American society founded on a hunger and thirst for religious freedom was turning a deaf ear to the pleas of the marginalized people, certain that God’s creation suffered no stratification; there was a likeminded group, across racial identity, leading the charge for equality. These interfaith leaders debated, protested and collaborated on their social, cultural, and political view leading the way to the historic signing of the Civil Rights Act of July 2, 1964 and Voting  Rights Act on August 6, 1965 by President Lyndon B. Johnson. These “Acts” made near tangible the lofty ideals of the American experiment, rendering equality under the law a present reality for all people regardless of color, sex, or religious beliefs.


The Social Justice Institute aims to reclaim the role of the prophetic voices in public life, pulpits and sacred spaces that are essential to continue to move forward issues of social justices. This five day intensive continuing education institute is designed to train seminarians, clergy, and laity with diverse views and thought leadership through conversations, lectures, worship, and fellowship. The institute endeavors to deepen their thinking and preaching by gleaning from scholars and practitioners on poverty, race, religion, sexuality, and theology.


The Social Justice Institute will be held on the campus of Boston University, August 3-7, 2015. Space is limited to 30. Up to 3 CEUs are available. Scholarships are available.


Participants will have a week to think deeply about the topics through robust academics and thoughtful discernment. The demanding schedule includes:

  • Plenaries sessions on social justice and the prophetic voice
  • Lectures on poverty, race and sexuality
  • Worship Services with around the thought leadership of Samuel Proctor, Howard Thurman, Martin Luther King, Jr. and Pauli Murray
  • Town Hall on Faith & Justice: The 50th Anniversary of the Voting Rights Act
  • Access to Boston University’s archives and libraries and Charles River campus
  • Three defined daily reflections periods
  • Facilitated group discussions

Event Highlight:

Town Hall on Faith & Justice: The 50th Anniversary of the Voting Rights Act, August 6, 2015

The Town Hall will convene on the 50th Anniversary of the Voting Rights Act. It will be made up of of leaders who understand the role of faith that emerged across religious and racial identity and was the catalyst for the Civil Rights Movement. It examines how the discourse was needed and remains in need of being framed through a collective prophetic voice of justice for a “people” in need of equality for the betterment of all, not just the said group.


Boston University is a leading private research institution with two primary campuses in the heart of Boston and programs around the world. It traces its roots to the establishment of the Newbury Biblical Institute in Newbury, Vermont in 1839, and was chartered with the name “Boston University” by the Massachusetts Legislature in 1869. The University organized formal centennial observances both in 1939 and 1989.

Boston University’s founders opened its doors to all students without regard to religion, race, or gender. Building and sustaining a vibrant community of scholars, students, and staff remains essential to our mission of contributing to and preparing students to thrive in an increasingly interconnected world.

Boston University School of Theology is one of about 15 university-based seminaries in the United States. It is a premiere small professional school nestled with access to all the resources of a country’s fourth-largest private research university. It is home to some of the foremost religious thought leaders of our time to include Anna Howard Shaw, Howard Thurman, Samuel DeWitt Proctor, and Martin Luther King, Jr.

The school’s history of marrying academic rigor with social justice is still vital and effective nearly two centuries later. It continues to attract students who seek the best theological training to take action in their local, national, or global context. This is a major distinguishing factor of our school: we believe that to “want to change the world” is more than cliché–it is actually possible.


Social Justice Institute Confirmed Faculty & Presenters

Adam Bond, Assistant Professor of Historical Studies, Samuel Dewitt Proctor School of Theology, Virginia Union University

John M. Borders, III, Bishop & Senior Pastor, Morning Star Baptist Church, Mattapan, MA

Burns Stanfield, President, The Greater Boston Interfaith Organization; Senior Pastor, Fourth Presbyterian Church

Delman Coates, Director, The Black Church Center for Justice and Equality; Senior Pastor, Mt. Ennon Church, Clinton, MD

Iva Carruthers, General Secretary, Samuel DeWitt Proctor Conference; Professor Emeritus, Northeastern Illinois University

Andrew Davies, Director, Edward Cadbury Centre for the Public Understanding of Religion; Professor of Biblical Interpretation, University of Birmingham, England

Chris Evans, Professor of History of Christianity & Methodist Studies, Boston University School of Theology

Susannah Heschel, Eli Black Professor of Jewish Studies, Dartmouth College

Sheila Jackson Lee, Congresswoman (TX-D), United States House of Representatives

Alisha Lola Jones, Research Faculty in Ethnomusicology & Sociology of Religion, Indiana University

Pamela Lightsey, Associate Dean; Clinical Assistant Professor of Contextual Theology & Practice, Boston University School of Theology

Marvin A. McMickle, President & Professor of Church Leadership; Director of Black Church Studies, Colgate Rochester Crozer Divinity School

Peter Morales, President, Unitarian Universal Association

Mary Elizabeth Moore, Dean & Professor of Education, Boston University School of Theology

Khalil Muhammad, Director, Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture

Diana Swancutt, Director, Boston Poverty Consortium; Research Associate Professor of Bible, Religion, and Global Justice, Boston University School of Theology; Global Justice Fellow, Yale University

Jonathan Walton, Plummer Professor of Christian Morals & Pusey Minister, Memorial Church; Professor of Religion and Society, Harvard University