Black August: Nikia Smith Robert and Traci West on Scripture Study as Freedom Practice

Black August Series

August 16, 2022, 7:30pm Eastern Time

Rev. Dr. Nikia Smith Robert and Rev. Dr. Traci West will share about how engagement with scripture and other faith practices can aid in efforts to dismantle and heal from the far-reaching effects of racialized overpolicing and mass incarceration. Dr. Robert will share about the work she has done to train Black churches to become “Abolition Sanctuaries” that embody emancipatory theology and enact abolitionist principles. She will reflect on how religion has been used to cause carceral harms, as well as how churches may apply their faith beliefs and practices to abolitionist principles that repair, restore, and rebuild more just and equitable communities prioritizing the flourishing of poor Black mothers and their families. Dr. West will share about her experience teaching toward deep healing and restoration within prisons, and particularly the teaching of Musa Dube’s “Fifty Years of Bleeding” in a men’s prison.

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Rev. Dr. Nikia Smith Robert is a Chau-Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow at Pomona College (California) in religious studies and ordained clergy in the African Methodist Episcopal Church. She is the founder of Abolitionist Sanctuaries©, a nonprofit organization committed to helping churches use public policy and transformative justice strategies to advocate for a more just and equitable society beyond prisons, policing and punishment. Read more about her work at

Rev. Dr. Traci C. West is professor of Christian ethics and African American studies at Drew University Theological School. She is the author of Solidarity and Defiant Spirituality: Africana Lessons on Religion, Racism, and Ending Gender Violence (2019), Disruptive Christian Ethics: When Racism and Women’s Lives Matter (2006), Wounds of the Spirit: Black Women, Violence, and Resistance Ethics (1999), editor of Our Family Values: Same-sex Marriage and Religion, and author of many articles and book chapters on gender, racial, and sexual justice in religion and society. See her full bio at