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Stirring The Waters Across America

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Download the Call to Action Document and Program


This series of events is free and open to the public.  Please register separately for each event below.

The black church remains the single most important institution of the black community. In an effort to celebrate the collective wisdom, strength, and inspiration of the black church for the flourishing of all black lives, Stirring the Waters: Vision 2020 focuses upon the role of the prophetic voice and the role of the ministers of music in ushering in the vision for this new decade of sacred black power. Our attention to economic sustainability and sacred worship will secure the legacy left by our ancestors as we “march on ‘til victory is won.” 



The Schedule

Wednesday, February 26 | Stirring the Waters: The Black Church, Public Policy, and the 2020 U.S. Election

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Watson Grove Missionary Baptist Church

9:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.

This day-long symposium will discuss urgent matters relating to the 2020 census and 2020 election and the role that the black church can play in educating and helping constituents understand how the census and election influence the development and impact of monetary public policies on the communities black churches serve.

9:30 a.m. – 3:30 p.m.

Our Money: Modern Monetary Theory and The Future of Economic Justice

Rev. Dr. Delman Coates, senior pastor of Mt. Ennon Baptist Church, founder of the Black Church Center for Justice and Equality and the Our Money Campaign

In the current monetary systemic, much of what we think of and use as money is created by banks and other financial institutions when they make loans. Our over-reliance on private credit to furnish the economy with a money supply causes an array of negative effects such as high household debt levels, increasing concentration of wealth in the financial sector, and greater difficulty paying the bills for the general public. It also significantly and needlessly restrains resources to attend to public priorities, such as education, healthcare, the environment, and infrastructure.

The black community particularly has been disproportionately affected by a lack of resources due to such things as unequitable access to credit and homeownership, predatory lending, the consistent devaluation of homes in black neighborhoods, greater scrutiny when applying for business loans, unemployment and underemployment, and a lack of community resources.

This presentation is designed to orient participants on the current problems, introduce them to a basic understanding of fiscal policy, and establish a political agenda for the black community.

Lunchtime Keynote

Raul Carillo, board chair of the Modern Money Network

4:00 p.m. -5:00 p.m.

“Just Worship”: Liturgy That Builds Community

Rev. Dr. Alisha Lola Jones, ethnomusicologist and professor, Indiana University


Delman Coates

Rev. Dr. Delman Coates

Rev. Dr. Delman Coates is a graduate of Morehouse College (B.A. in Religion, 1995), Harvard Divinity School (Master of Divinity, 1998), and Columbia University (Master of Philosophy in Religion, 2002; Ph.D. in New Testament & Early Christianity, 2006).

Dr. Coates published articles including: "And the Bible Says: Methodological Tyranny of Biblical Fundamentalism and Historical Criticism" in Blow the Trumpet in Zion (2004), "Towards a Progressive Christian Interpretive Praxis" in The African-American Pulpit (2004), and "Origen of Alexandria" in Union Seminary Quarterly Review (vol. 59:3-4, 2005). Coates wrote a piece entitled “The New Abolitionism: Monetary Reform and the Future of Civil Rights,” which is in the book “Mr. President: Interfaith Perspectives on the Historic Presidency of Barack H. Obama” (2017). Among his published sermons include “From Proclamation to Protest” (The African American Pulpit, July 2008) and “Race Still Matters” (TAAP 2009).

Since February 2004, Dr. Coates has served as the Senior Pastor of Mt. Ennon Baptist Church in Clinton, MD. In 15 years, the congregation has grown to approximately 10,500 members, adding over 9,000 new disciples. Dr. Coates has led the church in initiating and revitalizing ministries, doubling the church's ministry campus and land holdings, incorporating the Mt. Ennon Development Corporation, and impacting the community in Prince George's County, Maryland. In 2013, Dr. Coates led the church to embark upon several capital improvements including an elevator and staircase in the church’s narthex, a 550-seat sanctuary expansion and interior design. Under his leadership, the church has engaged in media advocacy and healthcare reform advocacy. In October 2009, Outreach Magazine named Mt. Ennon as one of the 100 Fastest Growing Congregations in the U.S.

Pastor Coates founded the Our Money Campaign, an economic justice campaign that seeks to solve some of our nation’s greatest social and economic challenges, which celebrated its official launch in May 2019. He is a board member of the Parents Television Council and the National Action Network. He is also a member of the Society of Biblical Literature, the Morehouse College Board of Preachers, and the NAACP. In 2008, TAAP honored him as one of the "20 To Watch." In 2012, “The Root” named Dr. Coates as one of their 100 African American achievers and influencers. The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) honored Dr. Coates in 2013 for his commitment to advancing civil rights and liberties for all. The same year, Ebony magazine selected him as one of their “Power 100.”

Coates’ ministry, messages, and social activism spans a variety of media platforms. He has appeared on, and been profiled in national media such as MSNBC, CNN, Fox News, Essence Magazine, NPR, VH1, The New York Times, The Washington Post, & Huffington Post, and is featured in the documentary, The New Black.

Raul Carillo

 Raúl Carrillo

Raúl Carrillo's legal practice and scholarship focus on the intersections between labor rights, financial regulation, and macroeconomics. By day, Raúl works with financial reform and privacy groups to in Washington, D.C. to challenge the unjust use of financial technology or "fintech. "Prior to this, he spent three years at the New Economy Project, where he worked on impact litigation, provided direct legal assistance to low-income New Yorkers, and gave strategic support to community groups, especially with respect to fintech and the development of a municipal bank. Previously, he served as Special Counsel to the Enforcement Director at the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.

Raúl currently serves as the Board Chair of the Modern Money Network, an interdisciplinary educational initiative promoting public understanding of money, finance, law, and the economy. He also sits on the boards of the National Jobs for All Network and the Our Money campaign. He is a Research Fellow at the Global Institute for Sustainable Prosperity (GISP).

Alisha Lolal Jones

Rev. Dr. Alisha Lola Jones

Named an Innovator by the University of Chicago and Harvard Divinity School, Native Washingtonian  Rev. Dr. Alisha Lola Jones, is a voice charming the nation in message and music, as she re-teaches our communities their loveliness. An ethnomusicological thought- leader and Highest & Best Life Strategist, she innovatively consults leaders and organizations on how to find their rhythm and achieve their maximum potential. Dr. Jones’ multiple interests have coalesced into the establishment of InSight Initiative, Inc to produce concerts and empowerment events specializing in low income, high minority neighborhood programming.

Alisha Lola Jones, PhD is an assistant professor in the Department of Folklore and Ethnomusicology at Indiana University (Bloomington). Dr. Jones is a graduate of University of Chicago (Ph.D.), Yale Divinity School (M.Div.), Yale Institute of Sacred Music (ISM)___and Oberlin Conservatory (B.M.). Dr. Jones' is a council member of the Society for Ethnomusicology’s (SEM) and the American Musicological Society (AMS. She is also a co-chair of the Music and Religion Section and the SEM liaison to the American Academy of Religion (AAR). Additionally, as a performer-scholar, she consults seminaries and arts organizations on curriculum, programming, and content development.

Dr. Jones’ book Flaming: The Peculiar Theo-Politics of Fire and Desire in Black  Male Gospel Performance (Oxford University Press) breaks ground by analyzing the role of gospel music making in constructing and renegotiating gender identity among black men. Dr. Jones' research interests include musical masculinities, gastromusicology, global pop music, future studies, ecomusicology, music and theology, the music industry, musics of the African diaspora and emerging research on music and future foodways in conjunction with The Institute for the Future in Silicon Valley, CA.

A seasoned cultural ambassador as an emerging operatic soprano, Dr. Jones has also had the distinct honor of performing throughout the world and with many luminaries in events and venues such as Washington, DC’s Kennedy Center Honors and The Washington National Opera at Constitution Hall, the observanceof the United Nation’s Day of Peace at Carnegie Hall in New York, The Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao, Spain, The Mozarteum in Salzburg, Austria and at the Centro Studi Italiani in Urbania, Italy.
A fourth-generation, ordained, itinerant preacher, Rev. Dr. Jones has preached internationally and has spoken before organizations such as the Student National Medical Association (SNMA) on tapping into their genius. She has spoken alongside notables such as Dr. Dorothy Height, Judith Jamison, and Attorney Star Jones. She has worked for ministries in Connecticut, Chicago, IL, and is an associate pastor at International Kingdom Church in Bowie, MD, where Rev. Dr. Martha Jones is senior pastor.

Thursday, February 27 | Music to Mobilization in a Racial Justice Movement

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YWCA | 1608 Woodmont Blvd., Nashville, TN 37215

3:00 pm – 5:00 pm

“As civil rights continue to be eroded for communities of color, it is more important than ever to support full access and engagement for marginalized communities, especially women and girls of color, in the political process.” Music is central to social movements. This conversation brings together experts, civil rights activists, and a Freedom Rider to critically reflect on the importance of music in racial and social justice movements. Join the conversation on how the language of music can be “water” to those engaged in the work.


Yvonne Kendall, musicologist

Ernest “Rip” Patton, former SNCC member and Freedom Rider

Patrick Dailey, Tennessee State University, countertenor

Beverly Watts, executive director, Tennessee Human Rights Commission (moderator)

Friday, February 28 |  Stirring the Waters Across America: A multimedia touring production illuminating the Civil Rights Movement

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Langford Auditorium | Vanderbilt University

7:00 pm

The dawn of a new decade brings with it the paramount duty of progressive minds to engage a Sankofa moment. Sankofa, from the Twi language of Ghana, is represented by an Asante Adinkra symbol generally depicted as a bird with its head turned backward taking an egg from its back. Its metaphorical importance is drawn from the Akan people who stress the importance of reaching back to knowledge gained in the past and bringing it into the present in order to make positive progress. We are in that moment.

Stirring the Waters Across America is a multimedia touring production illuminating the Civil Rights Movement. Conceived by American composer Nolan Williams, Jr., the production combines captivating music, spoken word, and dance with stunning visuals to highlight seminal moments from the Movement (1954-1968), connecting the past with the present.

Stirring the Waters Across America is one of the first works to be developed through The Kennedy Center’s newly-inaugurated Social Impact Arts Residency. The touring production is produced by NEWorks Productions and Edgewood Ventures.

"Through its images, music, dance, and overall narrative, STIRRING THE WATERS... offers a multi-sensory, inspiring experience that... is brilliant, stunning, and stirring... [It] links the past to the present, while offering a solution-oriented blueprint for an improved future. Williams and his team have set the mark high and America is better off for it!"

~ROBERT J. PATTERSON, Professor of African American Studies at Georgetown University and author of Destructive Desires: Rhythm and Blues Culture and the Politics of Racial Equality

Following the performance Nolan Williams, Jr. and Ethnomusicologist, Dr. Alisha Lola Jones will engage the audience in a talk-back about the production. 

Nolan Williams

Nolan Williams, Jr. 

Nolan Williams, Jr. is an American composer, producer, music director, innovator, curator, and musicologist. His body of creative work includes curatorial festivals curated in partnership with the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts and Philadelphia’s Mann Center; cultural programming developed in collaboration with the Smithsonian Institution, U.S. State Department, and the Embassies of India and South Africa; choral and orchestral works performed by the Philadelphia, National Symphony, Charleston Symphony, Philadelphia Youth, Atlanta Youth and Kennedy Center Opera House Orchestras; numerous choral commissions; songwriting credits on two Grammy®-nominated projects; music for television; and, collaborations with an impressive roster of artists, including Aretha Franklin, Patti LaBelle, Smokie Robinson, Gladys Knight, Brian Stokes Mitchell, Audra McDonald, Natalie Cole, Raul Esparza, Bobby McFerrin, Vanessa Williams, Denyce Graves, India.Arie, and Hil Harper.

Williams is also chief music editor of the landmark  African American Heritage Hymnal  (GIA Publications, 2001), with sales approaching 500,000 books sold worldwide; associate editor of  Total Praise , the 2012 hymnal published for the eight-million-member National Baptist Convention, USA; and third-most contributing arranger for  Lead Me, Guide Me – Second Edition  (2012), the African American Catholic hymnal. He has lectured before the American Academy of Religion; for the Festival Musicá e Filosofia in Naples, Italy; at Yale and Georgetown Universities; and, as a visiting professor at Dartmouth College (2012 spring term) and Howard University (1991-1992).

Recent projects include: music direction of the NEWorks Voices of America Choir for the  Library of Congress Gershwin Prize  honoring Emilio and Gloria Estefan (PBS broadcast); music direction of " Let Freedom Ring ," the 2019 MLK Holiday commemorative concert jointly presented by the Kennedy Center and Georgetown University, featuring Broadway legends Audra McDonald and Brian Stokes Mitchell; music direction of the NEWorks Voices of America Youth Choir for  The Kennedy Center Honors tribute to the creators of the Broadway musical, "Hamilton"  (CBS broadcast); a world-premiere performance of Williams’ “National Anthem” choral arrangement, commissioned by Major League Baseball for the  2018 MLB All-Star Game  (Fox broadcast); artistic direction of " The Philadelphia Community Mass ." a project Williams conceived, inspired by Bernstein's MASS, that features the works of four Philadelphia-bred composers (Rollo Dilworth, Naomi Ruth Floyd, Jay Fluellen, and Evelyn Simpson Curenton) in a theatrical concert production that explores anew the relevance of faith in our times; and, music direction of the National Gallery of Art’s exhibition-opening concert honoring Gordon Parks.

Williams serves as Co-Chair of the Kennedy Center’s Community Advisory Board. The Kennedy Center's National Performing Arts Committee recently presented him its 2019 Award for Arts Advocacy, adding Williams to a distinguished list of past honorees that includes Frank Gehry, Gov. John Hickenlooper, Dale Chihuly, and Catherine Oppenheimer.

Sponsored by Vanderbilt Divinity School, Vanderbilt Department of African American and Diaspora Studies/Callie House Research Center for the Study of Global Black Cultures and Politics, and the Curb Center for Art, Enterprise, and Public Policy.