Dear alumni/ae and friends,
One of the great gifts that church, academy and society has given me is to recognize the power of hope. From the church, I learned the power of hope built on the solid rock of Jesus—all other ground is sinking sand.
From the academy, I learned that what my grandmother taught me is called a theology of hope—a hope that tells me that God suffers with us and God is also promising us a better future through the hope of the resurrection. From society, I learned hope in watching the people who helped raise me. They were perfect imperfect folk who knew the difference between survival and dumb luck. They made a way and they brought others along with them. They refused to accept that the color lines in their cities and towns made them less than and instead built self-sustaining communities that brought forth new generations.
And when urban renewal destroyed those communities in the name of progress, they made sure that the projects—the Southern version of ghettos that were built to warehouse people—were kept in pristine shape even when it was clear that the design of these “renewal” spaces mimicked open air prisons and were set off from where the wealthy white folks lived. But because we were a transclass people back then, the Black middle class was right down the street and working class and poor white folks were right around the corner. And I bobbed to the beat of Gil Scott Herron’s “The Revolution Will Not Be Televised.”
For me, there can be no separation from the solid rock of Jesus, a theology of hope that believes in and demands that I work for a better future and a revolution that will be live.
Why in God’s green creation would I choose to demean any one of these space of nurture and hope for the sake of some malformed notion of faith, intellect or community that suggests that there should be a hierarchy of knowledge, a tote-board of knowing, a game boy of know-how?
It made no sense when I realized that I was called to teaching and it makes no sense now that I am the dean of a school of teachers and learners.
Emilie M. Townes
E. Rhodes and Leona B. Carpenter Chair
Professor of Womanist Ethics and Society