Session 2

We Won’t Take It Any Longer: Understanding the 2020 Black Protest Movement

America in Crisis

Against the backdrop of white silence, this session will shift our focus to the issue of black suffering and systemic racism. We will delve into recent events that have led to nationwide protests. Dr. Brogdon’s recorded lecture will discuss the importance of protest movements and past protests. In next Tuesday’s live session, Brogdon will examine Dr. King’s philosophy of nonviolent direct action and his warnings about continued unrest in America. King recognized that white opposition to equality and silence would only serve as fuel for decades of violence, exploitation, and nihilism.

 “In the wake of another wave of unrest and violence, what is the role of the church and its leaders? Can this nation pivot and go in another direction, or is it too late for real structural change?”

Session Video Lecture

Some questions to consider:

  • How did you and your family respond to the explosion of protests across the country over the killings of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor?
  • In what ways is America at a crossroads?
  • In what ways has protest helped America move forward as a nation?
  • In his final book Where Do We Go From Here: Chaos or Community, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. warned that “without this spiritual and moral reawakening, we shall destroy ourselves in the misuse of our own instruments.” In what ways was this statement prophetic for the unrest that emerged in 2020?


After the Session: Research, Action, and Reflection

Below are suggestions for further research and activities to engage in your learning toward change.

1. Intercessory Prayer:  The Black Church, like the psalms and prophets in the Old Testament, has a longstanding tradition of bringing reflection upon past and present events to God, and petitioning God for liberation and transformation. During the session last night, we read from Minister Cheri Mills’ book, Forty Days of Prayer for the Liberation of American Descendants of Slavery.  Check this link for a video about the call to prayer for liberation, and reflect upon the Black Church’s call to engage in intercessory prayer as part of the work for racial justice. Using a journal, prayerbook, prayer group and/or prayer practice, spend time over several days interceding for the continued suffering and trauma due to the long history, and for current events and racism within systems in place today. If this is new to you, what is it like to be so specific about racism when you pray to God?

2. Linking Education about Black Suffering to Transformative Action: Attention and the desire to join in saying Black Lives Matter and learn more about black suffering is high in the United States right now. Some black activists and leaders like Roxanne Gay are hesitantly optimistic that this protest moment could result in a real shift, but Gay also points out companies doing only lip-service while leaving racial injustice inside their companies unchanged. Spend some time reflecting on what Dr. Brogdon spoke about in his lectures, and what Gay is hoping for in her column. What is his or her vision for transformation, and how are they connecting their vision to specific structural injustices they see in the church and in American society? What do you think you and your community should do in response to what they name and what they call for?

Dr. Lewis Brogdon

Research Professor of Black Church Studies and Preaching

Dr. Lewis Brogdon has served in numerous positions in undergraduate and graduate institutions as a professor – Assistant Professor of New Testament and Black Church Studies at Louisville Presbyterian Seminary and Religion and Biblical Studies at Claflin University, and an Associate Professor of Christian Studies at Bluefield College. He also served those institutions as an administrator – the founding director of Louisville Presbyterian Seminary’s Black Church Studies Program, Provost at Simmons College of Kentucky and Dean of Institutional Effectiveness and Research at Bluefield College. Brogdon is the author of several books including A Companion to Philemon (Cascade 2018), The Spirituality of Black Preaching (Seymour Press 2016) and others.

Dr. Brogdon is also a popular preacher, lecturer, and panelist. He has lectured at Louisville Presbyterian Seminary, the Interdenominational Theological Center, the University of Chicago Divinity School, Claflin University, and Radford University on nihilism in black America. He was the keynote speaker at a city wide Martin Luther King dinner in Dayton OH, and received an invitation to the White House in 2014. Brogdon is an ordained minister of twenty six years and has pastored churches in Virginia, West Virginia, Kentucky and Ohio.

Dr. Laura Levens

Assistant Professor of Christian Mission

Dr. Levens oversees course development and teaching for the department of Christian Mission. She teaches a Foundations of Christian Mission Course, exploring biblical, theological, and historical aspects of mission practice. She also teaches several mission elective courses based on student interest in topics like Social Justice, Global Christianity, Women’s Experience, Leadership and Wisdom, and Biblical Interpretation.

Her scholarly interests include Christian missions history, women in Christian history, biblical interpretation, justice and transformation, and theology and practice of mission. She is a member of the American Academy of Religion, the American Society of Missiology, the Conference on Faith and History, American Baptist Historical Society, and the National Association of Baptist Professors of Religion.

Dr. Levens is a native of Louisville, Kentucky, and is ordained through the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship. She has served in various Kentucky, Texas, and North Carolina congregations and para-church ministries as associate minister, youth work, camp and retreat staff, preacher, teacher, and advocate for the rural homeless. She currently serves as the volunteer Children’s Sunday school coordinator for Central Baptist Church in Lexington, KY.

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