Workshop Descriptions and Leaders


Personal Power: Nonviolent Direct Action Community Organizing

This session will examine the historical and philosophical underpinnings of Nonviolent Direct Action, and offer participants the opportunity to better understand Nonviolent Direct Action as an embodied way of being.  Space will be provided to discuss and examine contemporary movements in light of the practice of non-violence.

Facilitated by Rev. James M. Lawson, Jr., leading theoretician and tactician of nonviolence and key adviser to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. on nonviolent direct action strategies in the Civil Rights Movement.

The Rev. James M. Lawson, Jr., is a leading theoretician and tactician of nonviolence and was a key adviser to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. on nonviolent direct action strategies in the Civil Rights Movement. He continues to train activists in nonviolence. In 1951, Rev. Lawson was sentenced to three years in prison for refusing the Korean War draft. Drawing on the example of Christ’s suffering, he taught growing numbers of Black and White students how to organize sit-ins and many other forms of action that would force America to confront the immorality of segregation.  Rev. Lawson helped coordinate the Freedom Rides in 1961, and while working as a pastor of the Centenary Methodist Church in Memphis played a major role in the sanitation workers strike of 1968. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. called Lawson “the leading theorist and strategist of nonviolence in the world.” Rev. Lawson graduated from Baldwin-Wallace College and received a Master in Theology from Boston University.

CDF Freedom Schools® Program

Come discover how you can host or involve your congregation or community in the CDF Freedom Schools® movement. Participants will fain an overview of the concept and vision behind this successful summer and after-school enrichment program for children ages 5-18. The CDF Freedom Schools program integrates reading, conflict resolution and social action in an activity-based curriculum that promotes social, cultural and historical awareness.

Facilitated by Ella Baker Trainers; Shaquite Pegues, Director of Ella Baker Leadership Development and Sr. Program Associate, CDF Marlboro County; and Robin Sally, Director of Curriculum and Programs, CDF Freedom Schools.

Challenging the Criminalization of Our Children and Communities

How do we understand and challenge the constructions of Black bodies and Black female bodies as criminal and amoral? How do we disrupt and dismantle the cradle to prison pipeline that is perpetuated by this criminalization? Vesely-Flad is a longtime activist in prison abolition and justice movements. Her work combines knowledge of movements across the country and insights gained through her personal journey.

Facilitated by Dr. Charlene Sinclair, founding director of the Center for Race, Religion, and Economic Democracy (C-RRED) and the program coordinator for the Interfaith Organizing Initiative, and Dr. Rima Vesely-Flad. Director of Peace and Justice Studies at Warren Wilson College.

Dr. Charlene Sinclair is the founding director of the Center for Race, Religion, and Economic Democracy (C-RRED) and the program coordinator for the Interfaith Organizing Initiative. Previously, she served as program director for Engaging the Powers at Union Theological Seminary and campaign director for the Center for Community Change. A community organizer for over 20 years, Charlene has helped national and local organizations develop grassroots organizing and political strategies. One of her main areas of interest is dismantling mass incarceration by uniting faith conviction and spirituality in social activism. She serves as a lay minister at the Church on the Hill AME Zion Community. Charlene received her PhD in social ethics from Union Theological Seminary in New York City.

Dr. Rima Vesely-Flad is the Director of Peace and Justice Studies at Warren Wilson College. Originally from Chicago, in her early twenties she spent many years traveling through Latin America and Southern and West Africa, including a year as a Fulbright Scholar in South Africa. After returning to the United States, she worked as a wilderness instructor for adjudicated youth and founded a non-profit organization that focused on dismantling mass incarceration. Dr. Vesely-Flad’s research is in the religious and philosophical origins of the construct of race and anti-racist social movements against disproportionate policing and imprisonment. Her first book, Racial Purity and Dangerous Bodies: Moral Pollution, Black Lives, and the Struggle for Justice, was published in June 2017. She continues to work in state prisons: Dr. Vesely-Flad directs Warren Wilson’s partnership with a local women’s prison and coordinates a program in which Warren Wilson offers credit-bearing classes to incarcerated students.

King in the Wilderness Documentary Screening 

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s leadership during the bus boycotts, the sit-ins and the historic Selma-to-Montgomery marches is now legendary. Much of what happened afterward, during the last three years of his life, is rarely discussed, but it was a time when Dr. King said his dream “turned into a nightmare.” From the passage of the Voting Rights Act in 1965 to his assassination in 1968, King remained unshakably committed to nonviolence in the face of an increasingly unstable country. Directed by Peter Kunhardt, KING IN THE WILDERNESS chronicles the final chapters of Dr. King’s life, revealing a conflicted leader who faced an onslaught of criticism from both sides of the political spectrum. While the Black Power movement saw his nonviolence as weakness, and President Lyndon B. Johnson saw his anti-Vietnam War speeches as irresponsible, Dr. King’s unyielding belief in peaceful protest became a testing point for a nation on the brink of chaos. Drawing on conversations with those who knew him well, including Marian Wright Edelman and many fellow members of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) in interviews conducted by Taylor Branch and Trey Ellis, KING IN THE WILDERNESS reveals stirring new perspectives on Dr. King’s character, his radical doctrine of nonviolence and his internal philosophical struggles prior to his assassination in 1968. KING IN THE WILDERNESS is a co-production of HBO and Kunhardt Films and first aired on HBO on April 2, 2018, two days before the 50th anniversary of Dr. King’s assassination.  Participants who attend the documentary screening on Tuesday from 2:00-4:00 p.m.  are encouraged to register for the 4:15 p.m. “Continuing the Conversation with Taylor Branch” late afternoon option for discussion, with Taylor Branch, of the film and what it means for our movement-building work.

Closing the Opportunity Gap: Improving the Odds for Children in Poverty  

Nearly 1 in 5 children are poor in the United States, more than 13.2 million children.  Nearly 70 percent of them are children of color.  Children of color will be a majority of children in 2020.  This session will highlight CDF’s 2018 Portrait of Inequality report, which identifies large gaps in opportunities for children of color across numerous areas that add to their disadvantage and their need for extra support to succeed. It will share findings from CDF’s updated examination of effective policy approaches to End Child Poverty Now.  You will be encouraged to share promising efforts in your own communities and congregations to reduce child poverty.  Learn more about engaging in CDF’s End Child Poverty Campaign.

Facilitated by MaryLee Allen, Director of Policy, Children’s Defense Fund; Elizabeth Ruth Wilson, Director of Research, CDF; Austin Sowa, Policy Assistant, CDF.

MaryLee Allen is Director of Policy at the Children's Defense Fund. A regular contributor to CDF’s signature reports, State of America’s Children, Portrait of Inequality, and Ending Child Poverty Now, she has authored and co-authored many other reports and publications throughout her decades at CDF. She co-chairs the National Child Welfare and Mental Health Coalition and works closely with advocates and service providers across the country. She currently serves on the Board of Directors of Generations United and has served on many other boards, task forces and advisory committees. She received the inaugural Child Welfare Leadership Prize from the Juvenile Law Center in 2017. Ms. Allen is a graduate of Marquette University and received her MSW from the National Catholic School of Social Service at Catholic University. [127 words]

(Re)membering Racial Terror: On Congregating, Storytelling and Healing    

Remember2019 is an effort to make space for the congregation of the Black communities and Black cultural workers of Phillips County, AR. Our work is to support and facilitate local practices of self-determination, memory, and reflection that are directly related to the mass lynching of 1919, the lasting effects of racial terror, and the current and future health of these communities. We remember in order to recall, reunite, remind and call forth. In this workshop we will gather to explore storytelling, witnessing, and performance traditions that move us between remembering racial terror to imagining healing.

Facilitated by Mauricio Tafur Salgado, co-founder of Artists Striving To End Poverty and co-creative producer on Remember2019, and Arielle Julia Brown, co-creative producer of Remember2019.

Mauricio Tafur Salgado is an artist pursuing justice and healing through a decolonial framework. Noting, “I come from the everglades watershed, my antepasados and a solid plate of my grandma’s arepas and buñuelos,” Mauricio is the co-founder of Artists Striving To End Poverty, whose mission is to connect performing and visual artists with youth from around the world in order to imagine, think critically, and conceive a world without poverty. Mauricio is also a co-creative producer on Remember2019. He received a BFA from The Juilliard School an MFA from Brown University and is completing an MA at Union Theological Seminary.

Arielle Julia Brown is a creative producer, social practice artist and facilitator.  Emerging from her work and research around U.S. slavery, racial terror and justice, Arielle is committed to supporting and creating Black performance work that commands imaginative and material space for social transformation. Arielle is a co-creative producer on Remember2019. She received a BA from Pomona College and was the 2015-2017 graduate fellow with the Center for the Study of Slavery and Justice at Brown University where she received an MA in Public Humanities.

Creating Responsive Communities of Care through Innovative Partnerships Workshop 

This session will focus on the critical need to bridge innovative community partnerships that are responsive to the needs of vulnerable “at-risk” youth. We address the social challenges youth encounter and address how to build an emotionally safe environment that marginalized youth need for healing. Recognizing that youth are part of families and neighborhoods that significantly influence their behaviors and choices, participants will engage in collective dialogue around establishing a community of care at the individual, family and faith, community, and societal levels.

Facilitated by Dr. Patrick Reyes, Director of Strategic Partnerships, Forum for Theological Exploration and bel Reyes, Executive Director, Innovation Bridge

bel Reyes is the Executive Director of Innovation Bridge in Sacramento, CA, which delivers high quality technical assistance aimed at bridging innovative practices and collaborative partnership for more just and equitable communities and schools. She previously served as the Program Director of Community School Partnerships for the UC Davis School of Education. Born in Sacramento, bel is dedicated to working with communities of color, schools, families and youth throughout the region, especially those who are Spanish speaking, to develop their capacity to be educational advocates. Born to immigrant parents from Guanajuato, Mexico, and a mother herself, bel values the contributions that culture, language, and identity have on education and community. bel earned a BA in Ethnic Studies at California State University, Sacramento with a concentration in Chicano/a Studies and is currently earning a Doctorate in Education from the University of Southern California.

Dr. Patrick B. Reyes is the Director of Strategic Partnerships for Doctoral Initiatives at the Forum for Theological Exploration where he supports scholars of color and works with institutional leaders on a number of inclusive excellence initiatives. A Latinx practical theologian, educator, administrator, and institutional strategist, Dr. Reyes’ expertise is helping communities, organizations, and individuals excavate their stories to create strategies and practices that promote their thriving. He is the author of Nobody Cries When We Die: God, Community, and Surviving to Adulthood (Chalice Press, 2016). For over 15 years, Dr. Reyes has worked with gang-affiliated, farmworker, and religious communities on compassion and spiritual practices for healing. He founded two groups that foster community and decolonize religious and spiritual traditions. He holds a PhD and MA from Claremont School of Theology, an MDiv from Boston University School of Theology, and a BA from California State University, Sacramento

Food Justice Eating and Believing: Religion, Food Justice, and Cultural Formation in Urban Life 

This 2-day workshop will consider religious, historical, ethical and culturally centered ways to positively impact communities through the valuing of their religious and culinary cultures. We will give attention to community traditions and resources as the two-part workshop aims to 1) articulate the rich history and culture related to the ways food and faith converge in African American life and, 2) identify the opportunities churches have to improve their own communities by tapping the cultural resources, stories, organizing strategies, and social capital within their proximities. 

The workshop will begin with a cultural history of food and faith in African American life. Through an introduction of the concept of “religio-gastro diplomacy,” we will move toward a deep reckoning with the wondrous and complex history of religion and food for a people and communities struggling for human dignity. Here we will survey the vibrant traditions of black agency, even as far back as during enslavement, that to undergird contemporary notions of food and religious sovereignty available to communities of color.

The next phase will be to assess the on the ground work of ensuring food security in these communities through the efforts of the church. We will study the work Rev. Heber Brown is doing in Baltimore to specifically bring churches together around this issue through the Black Church Food Security Network, which links Black Churches and Black Farmers in partnership to create a community-controlled, alternative food system based on self-sufficiency and food and land sovereignty.

Facilitated by Dr. Derek S. Hicks, Associate Professor of Religion and Culture at Wake Forest University School of Divinity, and Rev. Dr. Heber M. Brown, III, Senior Pastor of Pleasant Hope Baptist Church in Baltimore, Maryland.

Dr. Derek S. Hicks is the Associate Professor of Religion and Culture at Wake Forest University School of Divinity, teaching and researching in areas including African American religion, race, the body, and religion and foodways. Co-chair of the Religion and Food Group at the American Academy of Religion, Dr. Hicks is writing Feeding Flesh and Spirit: Religion, Food, and the Saga of Race in Black America. He authored Reclaiming Spirit in the Black Faith Tradition, served as assistant editor of African American Religious Cultures, and contributed chapters for Blacks and Whites in Christian America: How Racial Discrimination Shapes Religious Convictions and Religion, Food, and Eating in North America. Dr. Hicks has been awarded fellowships and grants from the Ford Foundation, the Fund for Theological Education, the Henry Luce Foundation, the Wabash Center, and elsewhere. He earned a BA from Grambling State University, Masters from Dallas Theological Seminary, and PhD from Rice University.

Rev. Dr. Heber M. Brown, III is the Senior Pastor of Pleasant Hope Baptist Church in Baltimore, Maryland. He is the Founding Director of Orita’s Cross Freedom School. He launched the Black Church Food Security Network which combats food apartheid by providing seed funding and support to help congregations grow food on church-owned land and partnering Black churches and Black farmers to create a community-controlled, alternative food system based on self-sufficiency and Black food and land sovereignty. Dr. Brown’s awards include the Ella Baker Freedom Fighter Award, the Afro American Newspaper’s “25 Under 40 Emerging Black History Leaders” award, and in 2018 being highlighted by Baltimore Magazine as one of 30 Visionaries of the city. He earned a BS in Psychology from Morgan State University, an MDiv from Virginia Union University and DMin from Wesley Theological Seminary.