Gator Grit Fireside Chat Recap: Religion & Social Justice
By Sheryl E. Taylor
The UHD Community, friends and alumni joined the Nov. 19 fireside chat, “Religion & Social Justice,” to answer the questions: “Where does religion fit into the scope of social justice? And “Can there be a balance between activism and one’s faith?”
UHD Interim President Antonio D. TIllis, Ph.D. sought to answers these questions and much more with Rev. Dr. Marcus D. Cosby, Senior Pastor at Wheeler Avenue Baptist Church.
The virtual event featured introductions provided by Dr. Creshema Murray, Special Assistant to the President and Associate Professor of Corporate Communication.
“This series provides our community with an opportunity to hear from global leaders, like yourself about current events that are trending, not just here in Houston, the state of Texas nationally, but globally,” said Dr. Tillis.
The chat explored the role of religion in social and human justice movements and topics such as the historical continuum regarding the role of the Black church, liberation theology, and ecumenicalism in the ongoing fight for human rights. Here are a few highlights:
Tillis: Why is it important to approach social injustice movements from an ecumenical standpoint, and what has been the history of ecumenical features, which I’d like to call them in the fight to eradicate social injustice?
Cosby: If we allow our minds to roll back to some of the images we’ve seen of protests and marches from the civil rights movement, you will see and ecumenical partnership of people (those men and women who stood together from all racial backgrounds of all faith traditions) who understood that justice was for all. And when you see that picture, it reminds you of your responsibility in the raising of the level of humanity in the world.
Tillis: Are there times when social justice and religion are in conflict with one another?
Cosby: Absolutely. If you come to the religious experience with a faulty worldview…that I have to make my space better then, yes, there will always be conflict…we will always be in jeopardy as a worldwide community. So, our responsibility is to move away from the egocentric understanding of religion that is not just about me, but it must be communal. I will keep using the phrase from Dr. King, “beloved community” because it helps us to understand that we should broaden our understanding of who we as human beings that we are all interconnected. We cannot ever lose our interconnectedness simply trying to make advancements for ourselves.
The University of Houston-Downtown (UHD) is the second-largest university in Houston and has served the educational needs of the nation’s fourth-largest city since 1974. As one of four distinct public universities in the University of Houston System, UHD is a comprehensive, four-year university led by President Loren J. Blanchard. Annually, UHD educates approximately 14,000 students, boasts more than 66,000 alumni, and offers 45 bachelor’s degrees, 12 master’s degrees, and 19 online programs within four colleges: Marilyn Davies College of Business, College of Humanities and Social Sciences, College of Public Service, and College of Sciences and Technology. UHD has one of the lowest tuition rates in Texas.
U.S. News and World Report ranked UHD among the nation’s Best Online Bachelor’s Programs for Applied Administration and Best Online Master’s Programs in Criminal Justice, as well as a Top Performer in Social Mobility. The Wall Street Journal/College Pulse ranked UHD one of the best colleges in the U.S. for its 2024 rankings, with notable distinctions: No. 1 for diversity (tied) and No. 3 for student experience. The University is designated as a Hispanic-Serving Institution, a Minority-Serving Institution, and a Military Friendly School. For more information on the University of Houston-Downtown, visit uhd.edu.