16:06 PM

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.

About the University of Houston-Downtown

The University of Houston-Downtown (UHD) – the second-largest university in Houston – 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 more than 15,000 students; boasts more than 61,000 alumni and offers 45 bachelor’s, nine master’s degree programs and 16 fully online programs within five colleges (Marilyn Davies College of Business; Humanities & Social Sciences; Public Service; Sciences & Technology; and University College).

For the fourth consecutive year, U.S. News & World Report ranks UHD among universities across the nation for Best Online Criminal Justice Programs (No. 27 and No. 15 for Veterans) and Best Online Bachelor’s Programs.

UHD has the most affordable tuition among four-year universities in Houston and one of the lowest in Texas. U.S. News ranked the University among Top Performers on Social Mobility and awarded UHD a No. 1 ranking as the most diverse institution of higher education in the southern region of the U.S. The University is noted nationally as a Hispanic-Serving Institution, Minority-Serving Institution and Military Friendly School. For more on the University of Houston-Downtown, visit www.uhd.edu.