; charset=UTF-8" /> More than 360 participate in CTS Spring Conference, “Selma at 50: Still Marching” : Connecting Voices
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More than 360 participate in CTS Spring Conference, “Selma at 50: Still Marching”

CTS_SelmaAt50_Michelle_Alexander_InkFactory_Small (3)More than 360 people attended Chicago Theological Seminary’s 2015 Spring Conference titled “Selma at 50: Still Marching” on campus Friday and Saturday, April 24th and 25th. The event served to reflect upon the legacy and commemorate the 50th anniversary of the march in Selma, Alabama to obtain equal voting rights for black Americans. Michelle Alexander, Associate Professor of Law at The Ohio State University and author of the New York Times Bestselling book The New Jim Crow (2010) and long-time civil rights activist and CTS alumnus Rev. Jesse Jackson, Sr. provided stirring and thought-provoking plenary addresses, and the conference also featured performances by humanitarian rap artist Jessica Disu (aka FM Supreme), youth finalists from Louder Than A Bomb, the annual Chicago youth poetry festival, and emcee and community activist Jasiri X. Panels and workshops featured a diverse array of scholars, experts, and community leaders such as Linda Sarsour, DeRay Mckesson, Rev. Otis Moss III, Dr. Rami Nashishibi, Rabbi Andrea London, and Timuel Black among others.

Each component of the event was designed to explore the intersection of public theology and scholarly life using activism and movement organizing theory as a lens. The dialogue generated explored a range of social issues and their relationship to each other in the now. “As a seminary committed to preparing religious leaders to guide our society toward greater justice and mercy, we recognize the critical need to link sacred texts and the spiritualities of the mosque, synagogue, and church to the struggles on the streets where violence, poverty, and indifference plague the lives of our neighbors,” John Thomas, Senior Advisor to the President said. ”This conference was all about hope, inspiring leaders to see the daunting challenges facing us not as an occasion for despair, but as an urgent invitation to claim our place in today’s marches that are the legacy of Dr. King and all who answered his call,” he added.

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Rev. Jesse Jackson

Chicago Theological Seminary has pushed at the growing boundaries of the church to make our faith relevant for 160 years. Our faculty and students have been on the front lines of many progressive initiatives and social movements, including various efforts to advance the cause of civil rights. In 1957, the seminary became the first in the United States to award the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. an honorary Doctor of Divinity degree for his activism, and in 1965, CTS president Howard Schomer, along with CTS faculty and students—including the Rev. Jesse Jackson, Sr.—marched alongside Dr. King in Selma, Alabama.

The iconic image of President Schomer, the students, Dr. King, and other march leaders wearing white leis—Hawai’ian symbols of peace among warring tribes—was recalled during the conference when “Selma at 50” speakers wore yellow leis made of plumeria sent by the Abraham Akaka Foundation to commemorate the event. Prominent CTS alumnus Kahu Abraham Akaka, pastor of the historic Kawaiaha’o Church (United Church of Christ) in Hawai’i from 1957 to 1984, sent the leis to march leaders 50 years ago in a show of support and solidarity for the cause.

“Selma at 50: Still Marching” was made possible with the assistance of a number of partners, including the Ink Factory Studio, who had a team of artists recording the sessions and creating a mural-like representation of all that was accomplished during the two-day event. Chicago Sunday Evening Club captured responses and actions through onsite interviews to create a documentary, scheduled to air on June 28, 2015 on Chicago’s local ABC affiliate station in conjunction with Greater Chicago Broadcast Ministries.

Conference t-shirts can be purchase on the “Selma at 50” website and the Selma at 50 mobile app, and photos and video will be added as they become available. Visit selma.ctschicago.edu to continue the conversation.

About Chicago Theological Seminary
Chicago Theological Seminary (CTS), a seminary affiliated with the United Church of Christ, serves over twenty-five different Christian and non-Christian faith communities by preparing men and women for the next generation of religious leadership, whatever that may be. Founded in 1855, CTS promotes a progressive, forward-looking philosophy and is at the forefront of religious scholarship, interreligious dialogue and transformative leadership. CTS graduates, students, faculty and staff have been advocates for social justice and mercy since the days of the Underground Railroad.

Chicago Theological Seminary helps individuals discern and articulate an evolving faith for the future, whether in ministry, teaching, advocacy, activism, social work or social justice.


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