Skip to main content

Becoming the Beloved Community 2022 to explore the intersection of race, religion, art, media and culture

Becoming the Beloved Community heart graphic

On Dec. 26, 1956, when the United States Supreme Court ruled to stop racial discrimination on public buses in Montgomery, Al., Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. called for the U.S. to work to “become the beloved community.” To commemorate the life and work of Dr. King, Auburn University will host “Becoming the Beloved Community” from April 4-5.

Becoming the Beloved Community, or BTBC, is an annual conference for members of the public, Auburn students, faculty and staff to engage in academic research about cultural and societal trauma triggers. Participants will learn how to listen, as well as share, contextual personal and community stories to help understand why inequity perpetuates discrimination.

“Today, Becoming the Beloved Community is a crucial humanities concern because 54 years after Dr. King’s murder, injustices such as racial inequality, xenophobia, classism, sexism, religious discrimination, white supremacy, ableism and exclusion are still polarizing members of humanity,” BTBC founder Joan Harrell said. “Our goal is for each person to walk away with specific realistic short- and long-term goals about how they can make an individual and communal commitments to intentionally, proactively and nonviolently work to ‘Become the Beloved Community’ every day of their lives, no matter where they learn, work, worship and live.”

On Monday, April 4, at the Jule Collins Smith Museum of Fine Art, interdisciplinary faculty and students from across Auburn’s campus will join bestselling author and religious scholar Robert P. Jones for a panel discussion on race, representation and community. The inclusive discourse will be followed by a screening of the HBO original “A Choice of Weapons: Inspired by Gordon Parks,” a documentary on renowned photojournalist, musician and filmmaker Gordon Parks, and a conversation with one of the film’s featured photojournalists, Devin Allen, and Associate Professor of English and Director of Africana Studies Ernest L. Gibson III.

On Tuesday, April 5, at the Telfair Peet Theatre, keynote speaker Robert P. Jones, author of "White Too Long: The Legacy of White Supremacy in American Christianity," will challenge the audience in a community conversation. 

Jones is a renowned scholar of religion, culture and politics who specializes in revealing and helping to heal from the legacy of white supremacy in American Christianity. He serves as CEO and founder of the Public Religion Research Institute, a nonprofit organization that conducts research at the intersection of religion, culture and public policy.

"At this time of such intense racial and partisan divides in our nation, holding out a positive vision such as Rev. Dr. King’s beloved community offers us hope and a blueprint for a better future—one where we find the courage to tell the truth, the fortitude to repair the damage and the grace to heal,” Jones said.

Jones’s book will be on sale, and he will be available to sign it, after the program.

The Telfair Peet Theatre will also present “The Mountaintop,” a profound reimagination of Dr. Martin Luther King’s final hours on earth, written by Katori Hall. Abdul-Khaliq Murtadha, a member of the Actor’s Equity Association and SAGAFTRA, and assistant professor of theatre and dance, will portray Dr. King.

Becoming the Beloved Community is free and open to the public. To virtually attend the panel discussions on April 4, visit

On May 1, will feature interviews, photos, podcasts and narratives written, photographed and produced by students from Auburn University, Tuskegee University, Southern Union Community College and Governors State University of University Park, Illinois.

For more information about Becoming the Beloved Community, contact Joan Harrell at or visit


Becoming the Beloved Community is supported by a grant from the Henry Luce Foundation. The Henry Luce Foundation seeks to enrich public discourse by promoting innovative scholarship, cultivating new leaders, and fostering international understanding. Established in 1936 by Henry R. Luce, the co-founder and editor-in-chief of Time, Inc., the Luce Foundation advances its mission through grantmaking and leadership programs in the fields of Asia, higher education, religion and theology, art, and public policy.

Tags: Communication and Journalism Community and Outreach

Media Contact

Charlotte Tuggle, Director
News and Media Services
CLA Office of Communications and Marketing

Related Articles