Jessica Henry
Student Writer

Photo retrieved from

Beginning on Monday, the Center for Public Humanities will hold its annual week-long symposium, of which this year’s theme is slavery and justice from antiquity to present. The week will feature a variety of lectures, panels and presentations given by faculty members and students, as well as members of the community.

“We felt that slavery and justice would open that up in provocative ways for people to think about how they could enter into the conversation,” said Jean Corey, director of the Center for Public Humanities.

The opening lecture is on Monday night at 7 p.m. by biblical and religious studies professor Dr. Emerson Powery. Powery’s book, The Genesis of Liberation: Biblical Interpretation in the Antebellum Narratives of the Enslaved, inspired the theme for the week.

“The purpose [of the symposium] is to have conversation about things that the humanities have particular knowledge and capacities to speak to,” said Corey. “[The symposium] highlights our disciplines and allows us to think about our scholarship in particular ways, towards particular themes.”

The keynote speaker is Dr. Kelly Brown Douglas, chair of the religion and philosophy department at Goucher College. She will give her address, “Stand Your Ground in the Legacy of Slavery,” on Wednesday evening at 7:30 p.m. Douglas’ most recent book, Stand Your Ground: Black Bodies and the Justice of God, examines the challenges of a “stand your ground” culture for the black church.

In addition to lectures, the week will also feature a variety of performances. On Thursday night, students from Marshall Math Science Academy Middle School will read poetry they wrote about a quilt that tells the story of African American history in Dauphin County. The quilt, made by the African American Quilters Association Gathering of Harrisburg, will be on display all week as part of the “Stories of Resistance from Central Pennsylvania” exhibit.

Also on Thursday night, Professor Maria Thiaw from the English department at Central Penn College will give a performance with students from Messiah and Central Penn. This event is entitled “Her Story: Voices of the American Griot Project” and is co-sponsored by the Black Student Union.

Corey highlights the breadth of topics the symposium will cover. “I think there is so much that would interest people. We have people presenting from all the schools, not just the School of Humanities,” she said.

Friday will feature a variety of student panels and individual presentations. Political science major Ryan Gephart will give his presentation, “Progressive Penology: An Analysis to Inspire the End of Mass Incarceration in the U.S.” Environmental science major Madilyn Keaton will also give her presentation entitled “Environmental Racism: A Legacy of Slavery.”

The symposium will end on Friday night with a closing reception at 9 p.m., following a dance performance and lecture advised by Greg Hurley, assistant professor of dance.

To see the full schedule for the week, visit