Jonathan L. Walton, an acclaimed Harvard University author, social ethicist and religious scholar, will be keynote speaker on Monday, January 21, during Saint Michael’s College’s annual Martin Luther King Jr. Convocation Week. Walton will spend the day at Saint Michael’s on Monday, speaking first during a faculty and staff convocation luncheon in the Dion Student Center at 11:45 a.m., and again at 4:30 p.m. as keynote speaker during the main MLK Convocation in the Chapel of Saint Michael the Archangel, which is free and open to the public. His keynote address will be titled "No One is Free Until We Are All Free: The Centrality of Collective liberation for an Inclusive Vision of the World."
Walton is the Plummer Professor of Christian Morals and the Pusey Minister in the Memorial Church of Harvard University, as well as a member of the Harvard Faculty of Arts and Sciences and Professor of Religion and Society at the Harvard Divinity School.
While some events during this year's MLK Week at Saint Michael's remain to be finalized, according to the main organizer, Moise St. Louis, associate dean of students/director of Multicultural Student Services, a few highlights include: a Tuesday showing of the movie BlacKkKlansman by Spike Lee in the McCarthy Arts Center at 7 p.m.; a luncheon talk on Wednesday, January 21 by alumnus Judge Nicholas Cioffi ’61 titled “Changes By and Within the Judicial Branch of Government and Some Thoughts About Further Change”; a Community Reflection Conversation on the essays written by faculty and staff for this year's Convocation at 7 p.m. in the Dion Family Student Center Roy Room; and a Friday Evening Poetry Slam with performer/songwriter Mic-Andre and his opening act, along with Rajnii Eddins, at 6:30 p.m. on January 23 in the McCarthy Arts Center Recital Hall.
About the keynote speaker
This year’s keynote speaker Jonathan Walton was raised in suburban Atlanta, GA, during the 1970s and ’80s by a family who kept the legacy of the civil rights movement sacred in the home. It is those early kitchen table lessons about service and sacrifice that continue to pilot and energize his writing, scholarship, ministry and social activism.
“It…was about … how you extend the legacy of service and commitment to something greater than yourself,” he said in a 2013 interview with The Boston Globe. “That is what my parents and my grandparents beat into us at the kitchen table.”
Much of Walton’s scholarship is focused on evangelical Christianity, and its relationship to mass media and political culture. His first book, Watch This! The Ethics and Aesthetics of Black Televangelism (NYU Press 2009), examines the theological and political traditions of African American religious broadcasters.
Walton is also an outspoken advocate for social justice and civil rights, as well as a passionate voice in support of the marginalized. His work and insights have been featured in several national and international news outlets including the New York Times, CNN, and the BBC.
Devotion to those social issues are prevalent in his writings, media interviews, speaking engagements and sermons.
Walton’s latest book, A Lens of Love: Reading the Bible in Its World for Our World (Westminster John Knox Press 2018), is an extension of his work from the pulpit and classroom. The book is the interpretative exploration of the Bible from the perspective of the most vulnerable and violated characters in scriptures. A Lens of Love is an aid for Christians who seek to be rooted in faith while pursuing professional lives that are just, ethical and challenge inequity.
Walton earned his doctorate in Religion & Society and Master of Divinity from Princeton Theological Seminary. He also holds a bachelor’s in political science from Morehouse College in Atlanta. He serves on several professional boards and committees, which include the Board of Trustees at Princeton Theological Seminary, and the National Advisory Board of the John C. Danforth Center on Religion & Politics at Washington University in St. Louis. He lives with his family in Cambridge, MA and Atlanta, GA.
He will address the following:
11:45 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. - Luncheon and Lecture at the Dion Student Center -- Roy Event Room. The Luncheon involves a 25-30 minutes presentation on ''The Moral Imperative for a pedagogy of Collective Liberation: Liberal Arts Institution and the Responsibility of Creating an Inclusive Vision." This is a faculty and staff luncheon designed to impact faculty/staff awareness and influence teaching in the classroom and interactions with students outside of the classroom.
4:30 p.m. to 6:15 p.m. - Keynote: "No One is Free Until We Are All Free: The Centrality of Collective liberation for an Inclusive Vision of the World."
About MLK Week events at Saint Michael’s College, January 21-25:
Tuesday, January 22
Where: McCarthy Arts Center
When: 7 p.m.
What: Movie, The BlacKkKlansman
BlacKkKlansman is a 2018 American biographical comedy-drama film directed by Spike Lee and written by Charlie Wachtel, David Rabinowitz, Kevin Willmott, and Lee, based on the 2014 memoir Black Klansman by Ron Stallworth. The film stars John David Washington as Stallworth, along with Adam Driver, Laura Harrier, and Topher Grace. Set in 1970s Colorado Springs, the plot follows the first African-American detective in the city's police department as he sets out to infiltrate and expose the local chapter of the Ku Klux Klan.
The film is produced by Lee, Raymond Mansfield, Shaun Redick, Sean McKittrick, Jason Blum, and Jordan Peele. Redick purchased the film rights to the book in 2015, and Lee signed on as director in September 2017. Much of the cast joined the following month, and filming began in New York State.
BlacKkKlansman premiered on May 14, 2018, at the Cannes Film Festival, where it won the Grand Prix. It was theatrically released in the United States on August 10, 2018, coinciding with the one-year anniversary of the white supremacist Unite the Right rally. The film received acclaim from critics, with critics praising the performances (particularly of Washington and Driver) and timely themes, as well as noting it as a return to form for Lee. The American Film Institute selected it as one of the top 10 films of the 2018 and at the 76th Golden Globe Awards, it earned four nominations, including Best Motion Picture – Drama.
Wednesday, January 21
Where: Dion Student Center
When: 11:45 a.m.
What: Luncheon talk by Judge Nicholas Cioffi ’61, titled “Changes by and within the Judicial Branch of Government and Some Thoughts about Further Change.”
The speaker will discuss the changing composition of Judiciary and the Bar, exploring common and statutory law from 1964 to present that substantially impacted the rights of residents of the U.S. He also will discuss possible changes to be considered on a going-forward basis.
As a Saint Michael’s political science graduate, Cioffi went on to receive his Juris Doctorate from the University of Connecticut School of Law in 1964. From there, he served as a trial lawyer, mainly focusing in criminal law, from 1964-1975 when he was appointed to the Connecticut State Judiciary. In 1987 he was voted the Trial Judge of The Year by Connecticut Trial Lawyers Association. In 1989, Cioffi became the Chief Administrative Judge of Civil Division of Connecticut State Courts and then served as the Commissioner of the Connecticut Department of Public Safety from 1991-1995. From 1998-1999 he was the Chairperson of Connecticut’s Commission on Human Rights and Opportunities. He now serves on the Board of Directors for Conair Corporation (a privately held large corporation). He also has approximately 23 years of teaching experience in constitutional, criminal, and other law at various colleges and law schools.
Thursday, January 24
Where: Dion Student Center
When: 7 p.m.
What: A Community Reflection Conversation
A panel from the Saint Michael’s College community will join this conversation facilitated by Saint Michael’s personal counselor Ryan Stanton and by Moise St. Lois, associate dean of students/director of Multicultural Student Services. Panelists will include Professor Katherine Kirby (philosophy), Edmundite Fr. Michael Carter ’12 (religious studies); Bert Lain (husband of Saint Michael’s President Lorraine Sterritt and adjunct member of the Modern and Classical Languages faculty); personal counselor Sarah Klionsky; and possibly others from the faculty or Campus Ministry offices, to be determined. The conversation will center on the essays written by faculty and staff for this year's Convocation.
Friday, January 25
Where: McCarthy Arts Center
When: 6:30 p.m.
What: Poetry Slam with poets Mic-Andre and his opening act, along with Rajnii Eddins
Mic-Andre is a performing artist/songwriter born and raised in Jamaica, Queens. He found passion and solace in writing songs, short stories, and poetry after moving out of New York City at the age of 12 to a small town in upstate New York. The Performance Art aspect of his craft came to fruition at Dominican College's Verbal Asylum poetry slam which gave him the opportunity to perform his work for the first time on stage. Since then he has performed on numerous stages in the New York area including: Nuyourican Poet's Café, Nu New York, Live From Underground, Good Vibes Creative Minds, Bronx Native, Treble Tuesday’s, and The Rockland Social. On August 26, 2018, he released, with collaborator and co-producer Wintersummerz, his first EP titled Balance. The project has sounds that contain elements of jazz, hip hop, and dancehall.
About Saint Michael’s College
Saint Michael’s College, founded in the great Catholic intellectual tradition, which also recognizes the principles of social justice and compassion, is a selective, fully residential Catholic college in Vermont’s beautiful Green Mountains. Our closely connected community delivers internationally-respected liberal arts and graduate education near Burlington, one of the country’s best college towns. To prepare for fulfilling careers and meaningful lives, young adults here grow intellectually, socially, and morally, learning to be responsible for themselves, each other and their world.