25th Annual Festival of Faiths: Sacred Change: Essential conversations on faith and race

November 18, 2021 - November 20, 2021
Thursday, November 18, 2021, 7:00pm to Saturday, November 20, 2021 at 1:30pm
Festival Pass: $150USD

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 Nov. 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.

Thursday, Nov 18:

7:00 pm to 9:00 pm
Keeping Emmet’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?

Friday, Nov 19:

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

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

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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.

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

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1:30 pm to 3:30 pm
The Ghosts and Growing Edges of Black Faith: Intersectional and Interreligious Conversations
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.

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.

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

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Saturday, Nov 20:

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

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10:00 am to Noon
Truth and Repair
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.

Chandra Irvin, Executive Director of the Center for Peace and Spiritual Renewal, Spalding University
Alton B. Pollard III, President and Professor of Religion and Culture, Louisville Presbyterian Theological Seminary

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