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“With the tragic deaths of Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, and George Floyd, the spring and summer of 2020 was another moment of reckoning. Like similar moments in the past, these intense moments expose the façade of a just society rooted in the lies we tell about who we are as a nation. The truth is America was built on the enslavement of Africans and the genocide of Native Americans. Racism and structural injustice are a part of the fabric of America and every generation must confront and correct it. Our refusal to do this is exactly why we keep coming back to painful moments like this.

As tragic as moments of reckoning can be, there is hope because, in these moments, we have a choice. We have a choice about the kind of nation we can be. These moments bring us to a crossroads and in 2021, America is at a crossroads. That is why I am honored to be a part of this year’s Festival of Faiths Conference. In 2020, the city of Louisville and its racism was exposed before the world. The conference represents our recognition of this and our willingness to look at ourselves and find ways to make repair. It takes two both courage and imagination to do this, things from the black faith tradition that are in short supply today.

You need to be a part of this festival, especially the session curated by the institution I represent, the 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.

This is not only a conversation about the past but also questions about the efficacy of black faith today. I look forward to seeing you in November. Thank you.”

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