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Sept. 19 community breakfast facilitates discussion of new racial justice initiative

by Sep. 12, 2017, 2:47 PM

The Rev. Dr. Emilie M. Townes, dean of Vanderbilt Divinity School (Vanderbilt University)

Emilie Townes will share her vision for a new initiative on racial justice at the Vanderbilt Divinity School’s community breakfast Sept. 19. Townes is dean of the Divinity School and the E. Rhodes and Leona B. Carpenter Professor of Womanist Ethics and Society.

“Taking on Demons: The Vanderbilt Divinity School Public Theology and Racial Justice Collaborative” is scheduled 7:30 to 8:30 a.m. in the school’s Reading Room.

The Divinity School will officially launch the new collaborative, funded by The Henry Luce Foundation, Sept. 28. “The collaborative will be a local and national hub that explores the ways in which our faith plays a role in how we respond to racial injustice,” Townes said. “In doing so, we will take on the idolatry of racism and white supremacy by fostering multiracial interreligious networks that are dedicated to working toward imagining and building a just society for all.”

Townes is an ordained American Baptist clergywoman. She has embraced the opportunity “to be in conversation” with the Vanderbilt and Middle Tennessee communities as she guides a school historically known for its devotion to social justice. After her remarks, Townes will take questions and comments from those in attendance.

Townes’ broad areas of expertise include Christian ethics, cultural theory and studies, postmodernism and social postmodernism. She has been a pioneering scholar in womanist theology, a field of study in which the historic and current insights of African American women are brought into critical engagement with the traditions of Christian theology.

Townes earned a doctorate in philosophy from the Joint Garrett–Evangelical Theological Seminary/Northwestern University Program in Religious and Theological Studies. She also received a doctorate in ministry from the University of Chicago.

Townes recently served as president of the Society for the Study of Black Religion. She was the first African American woman elected to the presidential line of the American Academy of Religion, which she led in 2008. Townes was inducted as a fellow in the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 2009. She also was in the 2016 class of Leadership Nashville.

The cost of the breakfast is $10 for the public. There is no charge for students, but reservations are necessary. Please call (615) 936-8453 or register online.