On Thursday, November 5, at 2 pm CST, Dr. Jan Willis will deliver a lecture entitled "…Stayed on Freedom; Our Black Experience in the U.S." Jan Willis is Prof. Emeritus at Wesleyan, riding the tide of her 50-year career as scholar, activist, Buddhist teacher, teaching part-time in retirement at Agnes-Scott in Decatur, GA.
This lecture is free and open to the public. Registration is required and made available here. This lecture series is sponsored by the Rockwell Foundation. Dr. Willis' lecture will be hosted by Prof. Anne C. Klein.
This lecture is part of the 2020-2021 Rockwell Lecture Series on the theme of “Religion and Black Lives Matter.” In May of 2020, George Floyd was brutally killed when a police officer kneeled on his neck while other police officers stood by and did nothing. Mr. Floyd’s death evoked condemnation from across the world, leading to weeks of protests denouncing not only police brutality and racism, but the politics of domination and death. The murders of Breonna Taylor, Tony McDade, Rayshard Brooks, Atatiana Jefferson, Eric Garner, Tamir Rice, and Michael Brown are not only discrete tragedies, but events that testify to structural histories of oppression and injustice against Black people in America.
The Department of Religion at Rice University is responding to these events in part by dedicating the 2020-2021 Rockwell Lecture Series to the theme of “Religion and Black Lives Matter”. Speakers include department alumni whose research focuses on issues of race and religion, gender and economic inequality, negative nationalisms, and critical global movements and human interactions that unfold in a post-George Floyd world. The Rockwell Lectures are part of a long- term engagement by faculty and alumni whose research and teaching engage the need to confront such systemic violence on the social, cultural, political, medical, economic, and ecological levels. The lectures will also probe some of the religious dimensions of the divisive practices that determine who can live and thrive or, conversely, who experience what Orlando Patterson has called Social Death. While we have framed this series as a critique of domination and oppression, the lectures will also offer insights on the things we can do to build just communities where Black Lives Matter. They will also address materials and ideas for teaching religion. Prior recorded lectures can be found here.