Candler’s Black Student Caucus (BSC) will host its annual Heritage Week February 24-28. This year’s theme, “Black (Re)defined,” will recognize the 400th anniversary of the arrival of African slaves in North America and celebrate the diverse expressions of black identity at Candler and beyond.

Second-year MDiv student Astria Wilson, who serves as BSC treasurer and co-chair of Heritage Week, says that the planning committee was conscious of 2019 marking four centuries since Africans were brought to America as slaves. “We decided to take a look back to honor the enduring strength of African Americans over these 400 years. At the same time, we will also evaluate how systems of oppression have changed and been refined over the years. During this Heritage Week, we will journey through history to help redefine what it means to be Black in a world that continues to challenge Black identity.”

The week’s events will also explore what it means to be black at Candler. BSC president and Heritage Week co-chair Chrystal Golden, a third-year MDiv student, says, “When we sat down to begin thinking about Heritage Week 2020, we considered how we each show up in the fullness of our Black identities. While Black students at Candler have a shared culture and heritage, we express ourselves in a number of different ways in terms of denomination, calling, interests, identity, and more. Thus, in addition to recognizing the 400-year mark of our ancestors being forcibly brought to this country, we also want to honor the diversity and the multiplicity of the Black experience at Candler.”

Each day of Heritage Week will feature an event addressing an element of black identity “(re)defined,” culminating with the 12th annual Heritage Ball on February 28. Proceeds from the ball support the Erskine-Smith-Moseley Scholarship Endowment at Candler, which honors three of the school’s first African American faculty and provides students from Candler’s Black Church Studies program with scholarships and stipends to support their theological education.

Says Golden, “One of the things that I personally love about Heritage Week is the joy and excitement that it brings to the Black Candler community of students, alumni, staff, and faculty. This is our time to reflect, honor, and celebrate the work of those who have come before us, as well as the work that we are currently doing within the academic space, the church, and the world.”

A listing of Heritage Week events is below. Events are open to the public unless otherwise noted.

Monday, February 24: The Origin Story (Re)defined
Black Arts Gala
6:00-8:00 p.m.
Candler Atrium
Free; registration required. Register here.
The gala will showcase art pieces that represent Mother Africa, as well as musical stylings and poetry presented by students and local Atlanta artists. Dress code: Cocktail attire.

Tuesday, February 25: Theology (Re)defined
Service of Word and Table
11:05 a.m.-1:00 p.m.
Cannon Chapel
Free; registration required for lunch. Register here.
Professor of Theology and Ethics Noel Erskine will preach Candler’s Service of Word and Table in Cannon Chapel at 11:05 a.m., followed by a fellowship lunch in Brooks Commons.

Wednesday, February 26: Liberation (Re)defined
Documentary screening
4:30-7:30 p.m.
Room 252, Rita Anne Rollins Building
Free; registration required. Register here.
The Black Student Caucus will host a film screening of the documentary “Foot Soldiers: Class of 1964,” which tells the story of the women of Spelman College’s Class of 1964 who participated in the largest coordinated series of civil rights protests in Atlanta history as college freshmen, and carried the Atlanta Student Movement through relentless picketing, sit-ins, kneel-ins, and other nonviolent demonstrations. A discussion and opportunity to organize in small groups will follow the screening.

Thursday, February 27: Education (Re)defined
Panel discussion: #BlackAndEducated
12:00-1:00 p.m.
Room 322, Rita Anne Rollins Building
Students are invited to participate in a special discussion on being young, gifted, and black while pursuing PhD work.

Black Student and Alumni Mixer
6:30-9:00 p.m.
Miller-Ward Alumni House
Free; registration required. Register here.
In support of Heritage Week, Candler’s Black Alumni Caucus will host an evening of food and meaningful conversation with current black students and black alumni.

Friday, February 28: Black (Re)defined
12th Annual Heritage Ball
7:30 p.m.-12:30 a.m.
Emory Student Center Ballroom
$45/person, $300/table of 8 people; registration required. Register here.
The week culminates with the 12th annual Heritage Ball, celebrating black students, staff, faculty, and alumni in academic excellence, ministerial leadership, and social justice advocacy. This year’s ball will feature the Rev. Willie Dwayne Francois III, a third-year DMin student at Candler, as guest speaker. Francois is Senior Pastor of Mount Zion Baptist Church of Pleasantville, New Jersey.
Dress code: formal attire.

Top image: “Three Dancers Rendition,” Diana Imani, circa 2013