MLK & Justice, Identity, and Social Change Initiative (Part 1)

Over January Term (or J-term), two students participated in a fellowship for with our Center as part of our Justice, Identity, and Social Change (JISC) initiative. These students, Raven Fowlkes-Witten and Lucy Tucker, serve on our JISC advisory board.

The JISC Initiative of the Center for Religious and Spiritual Life (CRSL) seeks to integrate social justice work with our mission: We discuss ethical and moral matters beyond sectarian spheres, provide interfaith dialogue and interaction, reflect deeply on community engagement, and undergird social justice work with spiritual/contemplative practice and ideals.

For the 2016 Martin Luther King, Jr. Holiday, the JISC fellowship project reflected on the intersections of spirituality and social justice. Students participated in a panel discussion at the Convocation of the Northampton MLK Commemoration, where student activist Charnice Charmant served as a key speaker.

The panel tackled the following questions:

What does it mean to privilege black lives within a religious and/or spiritual worldview, wherein universal human rights are paramount?

What are the justifications for prioritizing black lives in the United States in various theological/ spiritual and ethical traditions?

How does social identity inform the work we do in racial justice, and why does it matter?

Stay tuned for the answers to these questions along with student responses.

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