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Thursdays in Black: Making a difference one person at a time

Thursdays in Black: Making a difference one person at a time

Video production for the "Thursdays in Black" campaign. Photo: Ivars Kupcis/WCC

25 April 2019

“What can one person do” can often sound like a lament about powerlessness.

For Thursdays in Black, though, one person can build a movement.

David Emmanuel Goatley, Faculty Director of the Office of Black Church Studies at Duke University Divinity School in North Carolina, USA, learned about Thursdays in Black through his involvement with the World Council of Churches’ Pilgrimage of Justice and Peace. He has now launched the campaign through the Office at Duke University.

“Many universities in the United States have a horrible problem of sexual violence,” Goatley states. “We must notice, name and confront this violence among young adults as they are forming ethical cores. We must prevent sexual violence, protect the vulnerable, provide care for those who are victimized and insist on accountability and restitution of perpetrators.”

The Office oversees curriculum related to theologies and ministries born from the context of Black life for Duke University Divinity School. Goatley notes that all students pursuing the Master of Divinity degree, the basic degree for pastors and chaplains, are required to take at least one course in this area.

“Theology and ministry from the Black experience is committed to liberation and reconciliation, and sexual violence oppresses people,” he states. “The church is called to help set people free. The Divinity School is at the ethical core of the University, and the Office has a responsibility to ensure that justice is at the heart of this theological project.”

The campaign is being promoted weekly – “like leaven in bread” as Goatley calls it – with hopes for an event in the next academic year to amplify involvement.

“I hope to achieve a groundswell of participation across the University,” says Goatley. “People have been appreciative for someone sustaining a voice of support for victims of sexual violence and of the invitation to stand alongside them.”

Thursdays in Black