Black History Month on campus of Southwest


‘The events of Black History Month have led us further into the mystery of baptism.’

Katongole and Paynesv2In what has quickly become an essential part of the fabric of the long-standing traditions of Seminary of the Southwest, this past February saw Black History Month celebrated on campus in ways that still resonate across the community.

Seminarians, faculty and community members gathered throughout the month in a thoughtful array of events and gatherings to share and discuss topics meant to help build strong bonds and address difficult questions. Staff member Brittany James-Vito, Chair of the Black History Month planning committee reflected, “Black History Month was full of events and opportunities for the Southwest and the extended Austin communities to dive into culture and conversation, celebrating and honoring the legacy and achievements of the African American Community in and beyond the United States. The Black History Month Planning Committee has already set its sights on 2018, and how each year the community can take the experiences beyond the month of February, and into the daily lives of the seminary.”

Events included:

  • A Southwest community screening and discussion of the Netflix original, ’13th’, a powerful film from filmmaker Ava DuVernay, where she explores the history of racial inequality in the United States, focusing on the fact that the nation’s prisons are disproportionately filled with African-Americans.
  • A  festive watch party for the opening events of The National Museum of African American History and Culture, the newest museum of the Smithsonian in Washington, D.C..
  • A Black History Month Celebration Eucharist in Christ Chapel, with special guest Preacher Pastor Larry Terrell Crudup of Sweet Home – The Pinnacle of Praise of Round Rock.
  • An African American Arts and Culture Art Gallery, entitled “Stepping into Mission: Faith in what’s to come” displayed in Weeks Center from February 13th – 28th
  • The Keynote address of Black History Month, in conjunction with the annual Payne Lecture, featuring Dr. Emmanuel Katongole, associate professor of world religions and world church at the University of Notre Dame and author and expert in the study of Africa and the theology of reconciliation and lament.

Watch Dr. Katongole’s Lecture in its entirety here.

The seminary’s commitment to this time of reflection, celebration and learning spreads beyond just the one month, and has begun to help students and faculty frame a greater reference for addressing the issues of race in the 21st century.

BHM 2“The partnership between the seminary leadership and members of the Austin community has made the celebration of Black History Month a high point of our life together,” says Dean and President, The Very Rev. Cynthia Briggs Kittredge. “This year’s offerings extended the conversation on race and justice that was opened by Bryan Stevenson’s visit in September and that has continued throughout this year.”

The inclusion of the long-standing Payne Lecture – named for the Rt. Rev. Claude Payne, the VIIth Bishop of Texas –  within and informed by the efforts of Black History Month are another example of how fully these events have been integrated into the tradition of the seminary. Dr. Katongole’s well-attended keynote resonated broadly throughout the seminary community.

“Emmanuel Katangole’s question still rings in my ears, “Is the blood of tribalism deeper than the waters of baptism?” All the events of Black History Month have led us further into the mystery of baptism,” said Dean Kittredge.

For Academic Dean, Dr. Scott Bader-Saye, the efforts of the month aligned well with the seminary’s mission of forming leaders for the greater Church: “We are committed to giving our students tools and experiences that will help them dialogue about race in whatever vocational context they find themselves.  From our discussion of Ava DuVernay’s powerful documentary “13th” to our lecture by Emmanuel Katongole, this year’s Black History Month events gave students opportunities to engage, process, and practice the kinds of conversations about race that our culture so desperately needs.”

Seminary leadership would like to acknowledge and thank the members of the planning committee that made this meaningful month possible.

2017 BHM Planning Committee Members – 

Lynwood Randolph
John Culmer
Glenice Robinson – Como
Brittany James-Vito, Chair
Carrie Duncan
Nadine McElroy
Karen Kline
Alex Ogunmuyiwa
Scott Madison
Lora Livingston
Duane Carter