“The Black family” is this year’s Black History Month theme at the Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago (LSTC). Since the arrival of enslaved Africans on American shores, systemic racism, discrimination, injustice and oppression have continually plagued not only the individual, but the impact has multiplied as the trauma carried over to the Black family. As a result, the seminary’s Black History Month committee has planned events and discussions highlighting some of the woes and joys of the Black family. Support for events was provided by LSTC's Pero Multicultural Center and LSTC faculty, staff and students of color.
LSTC will kick off the month with opening worship on Wednesday, Feb. 2, and then honor the legacy and history of Black Americans with a black art exhibition on Feb. 7. According to noted African American artist Lawrence D’Antignac, “African American artists are the unsung recorders of black history.” It is in this context that the Woodshop Art Gallery on Chicago’s South Side is curating a virtual art exhibition titled “Black History through the eyes of Black Artists.” This exhibition will consist of approximately 25 paintings by Black artists that portray the journey through America’s Black history. Antignac, owner of the Woodshop Art Gallery, will also provide a special Black art collection to be installed in the LSTC lobby for the month.
To highlight some of the injustices experienced by the Black family, the LSTC Black History Month committee has put together panel discussions to explore issues confronting the Black family. The Feb. 22 keynote panel discussion, “The Impact of Mass Incarceration on the Black Family,” will discuss the countless ramifications associated with those incarcerated in the U.S. According to criminal justice advocate and author Michelle Alexander, “Mass incarceration is a massive system of racial and social control… [where] people who have been convicted of crimes… [are] then released into a permanent second-class status in which they are stripped of basic civil and human rights…” Not only does this systemic injustice impact the formerly incarcerated, but it also impacts the entire family.
Panelists are Jia Johnson, director of the Solidarity Building Initiative at McCormick Theological Seminary, a carcereal education program that supports prison education and reentry support; and social justice advocate Lettisha Boyd, associate director of THRIVE, a New York-based non-profit that develops programs and resources to transform lives behind and beyond prison walls. These two experts will discuss the trauma experienced by the families of the incarcerated and the formerly incarcerated. Johnson and Boyd will discuss the trauma experienced by the families of the incarcerated and the formerly incarcerated.
A second panel on Feb. 9 will explore “Black Family Wellness: Mental Health and Blended Families,” highlighting mental health issues that confront the Black family and the Black blended family.
A third panel on Feb. 17 will present the struggles of immigrant life for Black families, with a discussion focused on “The Black immigrant family: life in the U.S.”
LSTC’s cantor, Keith “Doc” Hampton, will present a musical extravaganza on Feb. 18 that will feature the Keith Hampton Singers in an online presentation titled “Keep on Praising,” a medley of songs that honor Black history and Christian faith.
A worship service on Feb. 23 will close out the month. It will honor the legacy of those who came before us and will celebrate today’s Black joy and the Black family.
Black History Month Committee Member
The Lutheran School of Theology (LSTC) is dedicated to bearing witness to the good news of Jesus Christ. Based in Chicago’s Hyde Park neighborhood, it is the leading urban Lutheran seminary training students for purposeful vocations in the global community. Aligned with its Lutheran heritage and built on a foundation of intellectual rigor, LSTC’s innovative, nationally recognized curriculum gives students skills for visionary Christian leadership in the public sphere.