Black August

A deep dive into the transformative and revolutionary aspects of Black religion.

In 2021, CLBSJ began participating in the “Black August” tradition. For five Tuesday evenings in August, we took a deep dive into the connections between our religious traditions and black-led movements for racial justice and social transformation. The theme of this innaugural series was was “Why Black Religion Matters” and it was co-sponsored by the Community of Living Traditions. See below for the archives.

This August, we will again convene weekly during August via Zoom to explore the resonance between our scriptural traditions and the call of Black August. This year’s series will focus in on the connections between our scriptural traditions and the movement to end mass incarceration. The series will launch on August 2 featuring Rev. Dr. Jeremy Williams. Other speakers will include Nyle Fort, Traci West, Nikia Smith Robert, Lukata Mjumbe, Lumumba Akinwole-Bandele, Charlene Sinclair, and others to be announced. The series will be co-hosted by Nicholas Johnson and Sherly Fabre, and Sr. Sharifa Vernice Meytung will lead a libation blessing to ground each session. Scroll down for event listings with registration links, and check this page for updates!Image by Rahim Gray; used with permission

Image by Rahim Gray. Used with permission.

What is Black August?

“Black August” is a pan-African and internationalist tradition that recognizes the month of August as a living testament of the depth of commitment to transformation and liberation within Black communities around the world. From the beginning of the Haitian Revolution to the Nat Turner Rebellion; from the Fugitive Slave Law Convention and the foundation of the Underground Railroad to the March on Washington; from the uprising in Watts (1965) to the Uprising in Ferguson (2014); from the births of Marcus Garvey, Russell Maroon Shoatz, and Fred Hampton to the deaths of Emmett Till, W.E.B du Bois and Michael Brown — August bursts at the seams with histories of Black resistance. Because of this, organizers have claimed it as a month to deepen understanding of and commitment to the practices that lead us to liberation. CLBSJ is honored to unite with this tradition.

Leadership Team

Nicholas Johnson, Series Co-Host

Nick is a pastor at Raritan Valley Baptist Church, teacher of philosophy and religion at New Jersey City University, and a PhD candidate in New Testament and Early Christianity at Drew University in Madison, NJ. His research focuses on Paul’s epistles, Revelation, and the intersections of Africana, postcolonial, and New Testament studies. Nick serves as the president of the CLBSJ Board. See full bio at https://clbsj.org/about/leadership/nicholas-a-johnson/

Sherly Fabre, Series Co-Host

A Haitian-American immigrant who grew up Catholic and converted to Islam, Sherly is a seasoned grassroots activist who builds capacity at local, national and international levels. She is the co-chair of the boards of Proyecto Faro and the Truth Telling Project, a member of the Fellowship of Reconciliation National Committee, UN Representative for the International Fellowship of Reconciliation, and a member of the Community of Living Traditions and the Muslim Peace Fellowship. She has volunteered with CLBSJ’s library team and the Muslim Peace Collection.

Sister Sharifa Vernice Meytung

An African-American artist and haijin (a writer of haiku poetry), Sr. Sharifa is a teacher and lay religious practitioner in the Catholic and Buddhist traditions. Her practice is also steeped in and informed by West African, Native and HipHop traditions. Her media books and CDs include Oil For The Lamp: 7 Virtues of Human Character Development, Hiphop H.A.I.K.U. Vol 1 and 2, Rough Ground, and she is currently producing an online video series focused on the study of the Jataka Tales of early Buddhism. Sister Sharifa serves on the Board of CLBSJ and the Philadelphia Buddhist Association. See full bio at https://clbsj.org/about/leadership/sr-sharifa-vernice-meytung/

Warren Cooper

A jazz musician and artistic entrepreneur from Philadelphia, Warren is the founding host and producer of WRTI’s gospel music program, Ovations, and the Executive Producer of Music Media Ministry, a multi-media production company focused on the manufacturing and trafficking of positive art that nurtures the movement for justice and peace. He is a member of the Community of Living Traditions and an Ordained Ruling Elder and Minister of Music in the Presbyterian Church USA. He works with CLBSJ as a media consultant.

Amy Dalton

Amy has been active in peace and justice organizing since age 13. She holds a Master of Divinity from Union Theological Seminary with a research focus in faith-based community organizing. She serves on the Board of Proyecto Faro, and on the Research Team of the Ambazonia Prisoners of Conscience Support Network. Amy is the Executive Director of CLBSJ. See full bio at https://clbsj.org/about/leadership/amy-dalton/