What does it look like to celebrate the stories and histories of Black lives in America?
Last night (Nov. 3), nearly 300 educators, scholars, writers, activists, faith leaders, and philanthropists gathered at the National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington, D.C., to explore and celebrate Black interfaith stories.
The event was hosted as a part of Interfaith America’s Black Interfaith Project, an initiative to spotlight the longstanding diversity of Black religious life and the many ways Black interfaith engagement has contributed to American spiritual and civic life. The project is funded by the Henry Luce Foundation.
“The effort that we are celebrating tonight began two years ago, as the nation was experiencing a racial reckoning in the aftermath of George Floyd’s murder,” said Alexis Vaughan, Director of Racial Equity Initiatives. “At Interfaith America, we asked ourselves, how can our work influence the world such that these things don’t keep happening? What do we want to see in the world that does not yet exist? Let’s go and build that.”
The event featured keynote speeches from Eboo Patel, founder and president of Interfaith America, the Rev. Frederick Davie, Senior Advisor on Racial Equity at Interfaith America, Josef Sorett, dean of Columbia College at Columbia University, where he is Professor of Religion and African American and African Diaspora Studies; and Shayla Harris and Stacey Holman, directors and producers of the PBS series “Making Black America” and “The Black Church: This is My Story, This is My Song.”
“As storytellers, it’s our responsibility to be encouragers. It brings us joy, brings me Black joy, to remind African Americans from whence we come from,” Harris told the audience. “We are resilient. We are powerful, we are creative, we are resourceful.”
The evening also featured performances from Sasa Aakil, 2021 Montgomery County Youth Poet Laureate, and an interactive multimedia performance by Black Interfaith Fellow, Naila Ansari, titled The Movement of Joy.
Photography courtesy of Silma Suba.
Learn more about the inaugural Black Interfaith Fellows.