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There IS A Balm In Gilead: Healing from the events of 1963

September 12, 2023 - September 15, 2023


A 3-day national conference commemorating the 60th anniversary of 1963, the pivotal year of the Civil Rights Movement. The conference is being held at The Sheraton Birmingham Jefferson Civic Center Sept. 12-14. It is hosted by The Historic Bethel Baptist Church Community Restoration Fund, The Minnesota Humanities Alliance and the Alabama Humanities Alliance.
The conference features nationally known speakers and facilitators with keynote addresses and 38 interactive breakout sessions. In addition to individual speakers, there will be opportunities for round table discussions, panel discussions and a special workshop track for classroom teachers.
“We want to have a conversation about what took place and its impact, yes, but we want to look to the future with hope through understanding and move toward healing from those wounds laid bare in 1963,” said Dr. Thomas Wilder, pastor of Historic Bethel Baptist Church of Collegeville.
Headlining the roster of speakers for the conference are:
• Dr. Hasan Jeffries, an associate professor of history at Ohio State University, an author, scholar, podcaster and editor. He was the lead historian and primary scriptwriter for the National Civil Rights Museum at Lorraine Hotel in Memphis, Tenn., the site of Dr. Martin Luther King’s assassination. His Tedx Talk, Why we must confront the painful parts of U.S. history, has earned more than 2 million views. He is the author of Bloody Lowndes: Civil Rights and Black Power in Alabama’s Black Belt.
• Elizabeth Silkes, executive director of the International Coalition of Sites of Conscience, a coalition of more than 300 museums, historic sites and memory initiatives in 65 countries. Through its networks, it develops innovative public engagement and human rights programs and is the only worldwide network dedicated to transforming places that preserve the past into dynamic spaces promoting civil action on human rights and social just issues.
• Kevin Lindsey serves as the CEO of the Minnesota Humanities Center (MHC). Lindsey, a widely respected public policy advocate and lawyer, has previously served in the Cabinet of the Minnesota governor as the Commissioner of the Department of Human Rights. Lindsey’s career has focused on leveraging personal stories, finding solutions to complex problems, and building an inclusive democracy for all.
• Rose McGee is founder of the internationally recognized Sweet Potato Comfort Pie®, a catalystfor caring and building community. She is author of the book, Story Circle Stories and the play, Kumbayah The Juneteenth Story. After the murder of George Floyd, Rose’s response with community sweet potato pie-baking and caring delivery prompted NBC Nightly News, The Washington Post’s Lily Edition, Reader’s Digest, and Guidepost, all to cite her as one of their top positive stories in 2020. In 2021, she was recognized by the Japanese Press as one of 50 Top inspirational Stories in “the world” during COVID 19. She is featured in the national PBS documentary, A Few Good Pie Places, and she has a TEDx Talk, The Power of Pie. Her children’s book, Can’t Nobody Make A Sweet Potato Comfort Pie Like Our Mama, is being released this summer by the Minnesota Historical Society Press.
• Stephen R. Haynes holds a Ph.D. in Religion and Literature from Emory University, the M. Div. from Columbia Theological Seminary, an M.A. from Florida State University, and a B.A. from Vanderbilt University. Professor Haynes has been at Rhodes since 1989 and offers courses on the Holocaust, the Bible and its reception, religion and reconciliation, and religion and addiction. He has research interests in Jewish-Christian relations, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, and the biblical justifications for slavery and segregation. Since 2016 he has directed the Rhodes Liberal Arts in Prison Program at West Tennessee State Penitentiary.
• T. Marie King is an Emmy-nominated film producer and director of Youth Pathways and Experiences with Jones Valley Teaching Farm in Birmingham. She also is a consultant and advisor on the creation of equitable spaces, an expert in facilitating difficult conversations and challenging audiences through her lectures to do the necessary self-work to become an active player in communal change. A trained Empathetic and Truth, Racial Healing, and Transformation facilitator, she holds a bachelor’s degree in Urban and Global Economic Development, a Master’s in Leadership and a Master of Divinity. She co-produced her first full length documentary on the unsung hero and civil rights icon, the Rev. Fred L. Shuttlesworth, in 2022. The documentary can be viewed on
• Dr. Tony Evans is one of the country’s most respected leaders in evangelical circles. He is a pastor, best-selling author and frequent speaker at Bible conferences and seminars throughout the nation. He is senior pastor of Oak Cliff Bible Fellowship, witnessing its growth from 10 people to now over 10,000 congregants with 100 plus ministries. Dr. Evans is founder and president of The Urban Alternative, a Christian bible teaching and resource ministry. His radio broadcast, The Alternative with Tony Evans, can be heard on over 1,400 radio outlets daily and in more than 130 countries. Baylor University named him one of the 12 Most Effective Preachers in the English-Speaking World, and he wrote and published the first full-Bible commentary and study Bible by an African American.

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