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Becoming the Beloved Community to host panel discussions, cultural performances, documentary premiere

Becoming the Beloved Community logo with heart

To commemorate the life and work of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., the College of Liberal Arts will host Becoming the Beloved Community on April 4.

In 1956, when the United States Supreme Court ruled to stop racial discrimination on public buses in Montgomery, Alabama, King called for the U.S. to work to “become the beloved community.”

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.

This year’s event, held on the 55th anniversary of King's assassination, will examine society’s current ways of thinking about racism, equitable treatment and historical landscapes within the context of the recent discovery of the slave ship Clotilda in Mobile, Alabama.

On Tuesday, April 4, at 11 a.m. in the Auburn University Chapel, a panel of guest speakers will hold a conversation about “Becoming the Beloved Community amid Prison Reform, Abolition and Voting Rights.” Panelists include Harriette Huggins, League of Women Voters; Phyllis West, director of Governors State University Social Justice Initiative; Jerry Davis-EL, co-founder of Governors State University Generating Hope and executive director of the Illinois GRO Community; Evan Mealins, justice reporter for the Montgomery Advertiser; and Robert Sember, Tutwiler college program coordinator of Alabama Prison Arts & Education. My Ly, news editor of The Auburn Plainsman, will moderate the discussion.

At 5:30 p.m. in the Jule Collins Smith Museum of Fine Art, a premiere of the documentary, “Beloved Community Civil Rights Tour,” will be followed by a performance from the Auburn University Indian Music Ensemble and a panel discussing “Becoming the Beloved Community: The Clotilda, Truth, Media and Landscapes.”

Panelists will include Darron Patterson, descendant of Clotilda; Cynthia Tucker, Pulitzer Prize winner, author and Auburn University alumna; Walter Hood, landscape designer for the International African American Museum in Charleston and creative director and founder of Hood Design Studio; Eric Deggans, TV critic for NPR; and Ben Raines, author of “The Last Slave Ship: The True Story of How Clotilda Was Found, Her Descendants, and an Extraordinary Reckoning.” The panel will be moderated by Joan Harrell, founder of Auburn University Becoming the Beloved Community, and Lori Spradley, Auburn University Human Sciences librarian.

The Jule Collins Smith Museum of Fine Art will host a livestream of the panel discussion on its YouTube and Facebook pages.

All events are free and open to the public. This year’s Becoming the Beloved Community event is sponsored by the College of Liberal Arts, Caroline Marshall Draughon Center for the Arts and Humanities, Jule Collins Smith Museum of Fine Art, the Africana Studies Program and the Department of Philosophy.

For the past five years, the College of Liberal Arts' Becoming the Beloved Community nonprofit humanities project conference has been funded by grants and an honorarium by the Henry Luce Foundation through the Vanderbilt University School of Divinity Public Theology Racial Justice Collaborative. Becoming the Beloved Community creates a safe and brave space for students, faculty, staff and members of the community in Alabama and across the United States to share their public engagement and scholarship.

For more information about Becoming the Beloved Community, contact Joan Harrell.

Tags: Community and Outreach Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion

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