Thousands of bibliophiles are expected to visit the 2019 AJC Decatur Book Festival, Aug 30–Sept. 1 in downtown Decatur, and Candler will be there, too. The school’s James T. and Berta R. Laney Program in Moral Leadership will sponsor three sessions, and Nichole R. Phillips, associate professor in the practice of sociology of religion and culture, will be featured in a fourth session to discuss her recent book, Patriotism Black and White.

Here is a run-down of the sessions with a Candler connection:

“You Deserve the Truth: Change the Stories that Shaped Your World and Build a World-Changing Life”
Saturday, August 31, 10:00–10:45 a.m.
Decatur Presbyterian Sanctuary

WilliamsSimon.jpgErica Williams Simon author of You Deserve the Truth: Change the Stories that Shaped Your World and Build a World-Changing Life (Simon & Schuster, 2019), is an award-winning content creator, TV host, and social critic focused on asking the big questions about who we are and how we want to live. The book, part memoir and part self-help, brings her faith and experience as a pastor’s kid in the black church into conversation with her work as a political commentator and social media executive and provides a blueprint to challenge the stories we and our culture tell ourselves surrounding fear, work, money, identity, success, faith, and love and exchange them for a life that is authentic and empowered. She will be interviewed by Melinda Weekes-Laidlow, founder of Beautiful Ventures, a creative social enterprise that influences popular culture to disrupt anti-blackness and elevate perceptions of black humanity, and former managing director of Race Forward: The Center for Racial Justice Innovation.

“Writing is the Way I Fight:” Celebrating the Life and Legacy of James H. Cone
Saturday, August 31, 5:30–7:00 p.m.
Decatur First Baptist Church

Cone.jpgHonoring the life of James H. Cone, “the father of black liberation theology” who died on April 28, 2018, several of Cone’s students and colleagues will reflect on his life and legacy, his impact as a teacher, mentor, and colleague, and the meaning of his work for today. The panel includes Candler’s Associate Professor of Christian Ethics Elizabeth Bounds, Interdenominational Theological Center’s Distinguished Professor of Systematic Theology Jacquelyn Grant, recent Cone student Dwayne Meadows, Emory religion professor Dianne Stewart, and senior pastor of Ebenezer Baptist Church Raphael Warnock. Candler’s Assistant Professor in the Practice of Ethics and Society Letitia M. Campbell will moderate the discussion.

“Patriotism Black and White: The Color of American Exceptionalism”
Sunday, September 1, 1:15–2:00 p.m.
Marriott Conference Center B

Nichole R. Phillipsassociate professor in the practice of sociology of religion and culture and director of Black Church Studies at Candler, will discuss her book Patriotism Black and White: The Color of American Exceptionalism. In it, Phillips investigates the relationship between patriotism and civil religion in a politically populist community of black and white evangelicals in rural Tennessee. By measuring the effort to remember those who gave their lives for our country, Phillips’ four-year study outlined in the bookshows that racial identity led to differing responses to the War on Terror and the Obama administration, and thus to a crisis in American national identity, opening the door to new nativistic and triumphalist interpretations of American exceptionalism. Phillips will be interviewed by Richard L. Eldredge, founder of EldredgeATL, a daily digital magazine covering Atlanta’s arts, entertainment, cuisine and cultural landscapes.

“Until We Reckon: Violence, Mass Incarceration, and a Road to Repair”
Sunday, September 1, 3:45–4:30 p.m.
Decatur Presbyterian Church Sanctuary

Sered.jpgDanielle Sered is the author of Until We Reckon: Violence, Mass Incarceration, and a Road to Repair (The New Press, 2019) and the founder and director of Common Justice, one of the few organizations offering alternatives to incarceration for people who commit serious violent crimes. With the focus of incarceration reformers mostly on nonviolent and drug offenses, Sered’s groundbreaking book steers into new territory, directly engaging the question of violence and asking us to reconsider the purposes of incarceration. She argues that criminal trials and prison sentences do not meet the needs of survivors of violent crime as well as asking people who commit violence to accept responsibility for their actions and make meaningful amends to those they have hurt. She will be interviewed by Xochitl Bervera, director of the Racial Justice Action Center, a multiracial organizing and training institute working to build the grassroots leadership and power of communities of color and low-income communities

Now in its 14thyear, the AJC Decatur Book Festival takes place annually over Labor Day weekend. It is the largest independent book festival in the United States. Emory University is a presenting sponsor of the festival.

Photo of Erica Williams Simon: Brian K. Freeman.