The idea was that Symposium would bring together all of our community… As long as we live in these bodies, as long as we are on this earth, as long as we do this work, we cannot live in separation, because we don’t live separated lives.”
–Dr. Ibrahim Abdurrahman Farajajé
Starr King Symposium
January 11, 2020
First Unitarian Church of Oakland
685 14th Street, Oakland, CA 94612
What is Symposium?
A tradition founded by former SKSM Provost Dr. Ibrahim Farajajé (1952-2016), Symposium is an annual gathering of our entire student body, faculty, staff, trustees, and community members. This “urban retreat” serves as a day of study, dialogue, food, art, music, community-building, service, and celebration of the Spirit of Life, as we cultivate multi-religious, counter-oppressive, just and sustainable communities.
Starr King’s 8th Annual Symposium will be held January 11th, 2020. This Symposium is convened by Dean Gabriella Lettini in collaboration with other SKSM faculty and community leaders.
Another Meaning of the World: Lessons from Afro-Atlantic Religions for Traumatic Times
What can Cuban Santeria/Lucumí, Haitian Vodou and Brazilian Candomblé teach us about surviving and transforming the modern world? How do religions created by enslaved Africans and their descendants speak to issues of trauma, healing and an ethic of social justice? And how are these traditions related to African American Christianity?
In her keynote lecture, scholar and poet Rachel Elizabeth Harding explores the shared histories and linked wisdoms of African Diasporic religions in the Americas. Using a womanist frame, Harding’s work emphasizes concepts of Black indigeneity, ancestralidade, and mothering as sources (and resources) in the creation of alternative orientations to human community in the 21st century.
Our Honored Teacher
This year we are thrilled to have Dr. Rachel Elizabeth Harding!
Dr. Rachel Harding is a poet, historian and scholar of religions of the Afro-Atlantic diaspora. Associate Professor of Indigenous Spiritual Traditions in the Ethnic Studies department of the University of Colorado Denver, Dr. Harding writes about the conjunction of religion, creativity and social justice in the experience of communities of African descent in the US and Brazil. She is author of two books: A Refuge in Thunder, a history of the Afro-Brazilian religion, Candomblé; and more recently, Remnants: A Memoir of Spirit, Activism and Mothering, co-written with her mother, Rosemarie Freeney Harding, on the role of compassion and mysticism in African American social justice organizing.
Rachel is an ebômi (ritual elder) in the Terreiro do Cobre Candomblé community in Salvador, Bahia, Brazil. She also co-directs the Veterans of Hope Project – an interdisciplinary initiative on religion, grassroots democracy and healing, that was founded by her parents, Vincent and Rosemarie Freeney Harding.
Only water or water bottles are allowed in the sanctuary. We also ask that we all attend the entire day completely free of fragranced hair, skin, and clothing, including ‘natural’ or aromatherapy personal products. A list of fragrance-free products, including those that are especially good for people of color is given here: eastbaymeditation.org/accessibility/scentfree.html. Parts of this event will be photographed/filmed. If you have any concerns about being on camera please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
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For highlights of past Starr King Symposia, click here.