FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
UNION THEOLOGICAL SEMINARY HOSTS FAITH LEADERS AND HUMAN RIGHTS ACTIVISTS AT THE DEMOCRATIC NATIONAL CONVENTION TO DISCUSS HOW FAITH SPARKS SOCIAL MOVEMENTS AND LASTING CHANGE
(New York, NY July 22, 2016) — Rev. Dr. Derrick Harkins, Senior Vice President for Innovation in Public Programs at Union Theological Seminary, whose programs include LGBT outreach and work on issues surrounding Islamophobia, will be among the speakers on a panel convened by Union for a discussion on “Faith: An Enduring Element for Movement-Building and Social Change. The session will be held on Thursday, July 28, 12:30 – 2 p.m., at the American Institute of Architects on 1218 Arch Street, just across from the Philadelphia Convention Center, site of the Democratic National Convention.
From its inception, American history has been marked with examples of how people of faith have used their voices to fuel the pursuit of profound social change. Panelists will explore how that tradition has been interwoven with the quests for justice and equality; how this compares with the role faith has played in social change movements worldwide; and how faith helps provoke compassion and progress in the face of the most challenging social and political issues of our time.
“There are voices taking shape now around the issues of police and gun violence that are going to have impact going forth,” Dr. Harkins said. “Who would have thought that groups such as Black Lives Matter would have an impact on thousands of people who are really trying on all sides of the spectrum to address these issues?
“And I’m encouraged because I’m hearing from conservatives in ways that I would have never expected. Maybe we are at a point where we are indeed, again, crossing the Rubicon. Maybe we’re at a point where the critical mass is such that we’ve got to do better. I’m going to be hopeful. That doesn’t mean it’s going to change within the next day, month, week or even year. But I definitely think there are voices and people committed to creating bridges that were not there even a few months ago.”
Dr. Harkins will be joined by Melissa Harris-Perry, BET special correspondent, ELLE Magazine editor-at-large, author and political commentator, who will moderate the discussion. Also joining Union are the Rev. Dr. William Barber, pastor, Greenleaf Christian Church, Disciples of Christ, in Goldsboro, N.C.; Ruby Bridges, activist and civil rights hero, long known as the subject of Norman Rockwell’s iconic illustration “The Problem We All Must Live With”; Carmen Dixon, community organizer-policing reform campaign, NAACP Legal Defense & Educational Fund, New York and a leader of the city’s Black Lives Matter chapter; the Rev. Broderick Greer, curate, Grace-St. Luke’s Episcopal Church and School in Memphis, Tenn.; and Greisa Martinez, advocacy director, United We Dream Network, Washington.
The panel is part of the Raben Respite, two days of events with America’s changemakers at the 2016 Democratic National Convention. For information about the Respite, email Karen Driscoll at email@example.com.
About Rev. Dr. Harkins:
Dr. Harkins serves as Senior Vice President for Innovation in Public Programs at Union Theological Seminary, where he develops programming aimed primarily at those not enrolled in Union’s degree programs. This includes continuing and online education, public events, and the work of the institutes and initiatives housed at Union. Most recently, these initiatives have included outreach about LGBT public policy, intersectionality issues, Islamophobia, and re-entering citizens.
Prior to his appointment in February 2015, Dr. Harkins served as pastor of the Nineteenth Street Baptist Church in Washington, D.C., where he led the congregation in initiatives ranging from health education and access to international relief and development. During the 2012 presidential campaign, Dr. Harkins was named National Director of Faith Outreach for the Democratic National Committee. He has advised the Obama administration on a number of faith-related issues.
About Union Theological Seminary:
Union Theological Seminary, based in New York City, is a seminary and a graduate school of theology established in 1836 by founders “deeply impressed by the claims of the world upon the church.” Union prepares people for committed lives of service to the church, academy, and society. Combining rigorous scholarship with a commitment to social justice, Union is providing new leadership to positively transform the world.
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