The Vanderbilt chapter of Black Seminarians was organized in 1977 as a means for supplying black students with a community that reflects and embodies the unique context of black Americans in a predominantly white educational framework. Membership includes all black students in the Divinity School and the Graduate Department of Religion, though people of all racial classifications are welcome and encouraged to participate in our programs and discussions.
The organization of Black Seminarians was originally formed in order that black students in the Divinity School could have a place of cultural refuge from the white Protestant hegemony that typically exists in academic institutions. Their immediate concerns were to increase the diversity of the Divinity School through finding viable non-white professors to add to the ranks of VDS faculty, establish an endowed chair for black church studies, and decrease the opportunities for racism to flourish in VDS, all of which were met in some form.
Currently, Black Seminarians continue to work against ethnic imperialism through reworking curriculum by drawing attention to non-white academic sources as central rather than peripheral and exploring the issues that plague black institutions such as patriarchy and the call for praxis. While Black Seminarians have joined the fight to attract and retain a full-time black female professor, we are committed to supporting all students and faculty in the Divinity School and Graduate Department of Religion on their quest for true scholarship. This is reflected in periodic study groups and writing help in a community of care.
Recently, Black Seminarians created a focus group to update the VDS commitment against racism, and the revisions were accepted by the Deans and the faculty in the Spring semester of 2006!
In the future, Black Seminarians plans to continue to work towards practical solutions for issues that plague the black community while striving to mediate a respectful reintroduction between the black and white communities. We hope you will join us in our endeavors!