Home > Events > Learn > Seeking the Sacred: Journey to Justice
A s America confronts racial inequity in its criminal justice system and clashing protests face off on city streets, we embark on a Congregational Conversation that has never felt more urgent. This fall, in partnership with Shiloh Baptist Church, John Wesley AME Zion Church, Contee AME Zion Church, and Howard University Divinity School, we will examine historic and contemporary racial injustice in our nation and work to find a path to help repair our world. With each other and with our partners in the Black faith community, we will explore, talk, listen, and do the important work that is critical to affect change.
We launch our Congregational Conversation and this year’s Amram Scholar Series with an inspiring keynote from Pulitzer Prize-winning author Isabel Wilkerson, whose new book, Caste: The Origins of Our Discontents, examines the unspoken caste system that has shaped America.
Nominated for the National Book Award for nonfiction and selected by the Oprah Book Club, Caste shows how our lives today remain defined by a hierarchy of human divisions. “As we go about our daily lives, caste is the wordless usher in a darkened theater, flashlight cast down in the aisles, guiding us to our assigned seats for a performance,” she writes. “The hierarchy of caste is not about feelings or morality. It is about power—which groups have it and which do not.”
Linking the caste systems of America, India, and Nazi Germany, Wilkerson explores eight pillars that underlie caste systems across civilizations, among them divine will, bloodlines, and stigma. Using riveting stories about people—including Martin Luther King Jr., baseball’s Satchel Paige, a single father and his toddler son, Wilkerson herself, and many others—she describes the ways that the insidious undertow of caste is experienced every day.
In his review in The New York Times, Dwight Garner calls Caste “extraordinary … one of the most powerful nonfiction books I’d ever encountered … an instant American classic and almost certainly the keynote nonfiction book of the American century thus far.”
About Our Speaker
Isabel Wilkerson, recipient of a 2015 National Humanities Medal, won the Pulitzer Prize for Feature Writing in 1994 as Chicago bureau chief of The New York Times, making her the first African-American woman to win a Pulitzer Prize in journalism. Wilkerson’s first book, The Warmth of Other Suns: The Epic Story of America’s Great Migration, won the National Book Critics Circle Award for Nonfiction and was named to Time’s 10 Best Nonfiction Books of the 2010s, The New York Times’ list of the Best Nonfiction of All Time, and Best of the Year lists in The New Yorker, the Los Angeles Times, and The Washington Post.
Born in Washington, D.C., Wilkerson is a daughter of the Great Migration that is the subject of that book. She spent 15 years interviewing more than 1,200 people to tell the story of the six million African Americans—among them her parents—who left the segregationist South between 1916 and 1970 in search of better lives in northern, midwestern, and western states. Caste made national news when President Barack Obama chose the book for summer reading in 2011.
In addition to her writing, Wilkerson has taught at Princeton, Emory, and Boston universities.
Presented in memory of Nick Kotz and his passion for equality.
Sunday, October 18
5:00 pm - 6:00 pm
Amram, Congregational Conversations
3935 Macomb Street NW
Washington, DC 20016
11810 Falls Road
Potomac, MD 20854
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