McCormick Theological Seminary Sponsors Three Lecture Series for Black History Month, February 17 and 18


The biennial Paul Allen Lectures will be held on Monday, February 17, 2014, and will explore the situation of African American males within the black church. On that same Monday evening, the Black History Month lecture will focus on religion and the color line. On Tuesday, the Martin Luther King, Jr. lecture will examine Benjamin Mays and Martin Luther King, Jr. All lectures will be held at the seminary and are free and open to the public.

The Rev. Dr. Walter Fluker will offer the biennial Paul Allen Lectures. The lecture series begins with the first lecture at 10:00 a.m. followed by lunch. The second lecture will begin at 1:00 p.m.

Professor Fluker will present both lectures. The first, Cultural Asylums and the Jungles Planted in Them: The Exilic Condition of African American Males and the Black Church examines a selected cultural narrative that holds distorted presentations of young black males as dangerous madmen, monkeys and monsters. Professor Fluker is interested analyzing the ecology of exilic existence of many of these young men and it’s rootedness in habitus, history, and memory.

The second lecture, Tools of the Spirit (Aesthetic Triggers): Style to Awaken Consciousness / Ritual Production, and Symbols explores spiritually liberating ways to empower young black men and the church to confront and reconstruct dominant cultural narratives that perpetuate themselves intergenerationally in socio-cultural and theological discourses and practices.

On Monday evening, the Black History Month lecture will begin with a reception at 4:00 p.m. The Rev. J. Kameron Carter, Ph.D. will lecture on “Postracial Blues: Rogue Reflections on Religion and the Twenty-First Century Color Line.”

On Tuesday, February 18, 2014, the Martin Luther King, Jr., lecture will be presented by McCormick alum, Rev. Randal M. Jelks (1983). The gathering will begin at 4:00 p.m. Rev. Jelks lecture is entitled “Benjamin Mays and Martin Luther King, Jr.: The Spiritual and Social Justice Imperative to Re-Think Everyday Violence.”

Rev. Dr. Walter Earl Fluker is the Martin Luther King, Jr. Professor of Ethical Leadership and the editor of the Howard Thurman Papers Project at Boston University School of Theology. He is known as an expert in the theory and practice of ethical leadership. He earned his Ph.D. in Social Ethics from Boston University, his Master of Divinity degree from Garrett-Evangelical Seminary and his bachelor’s degree in philosophy and biblical studies from Trinity College.

Professor Carter teaches courses in both theology and black church studies. Working as a theologian, he addresses the basic areas of Christian thought, especially attending to Christology (the person and work of Jesus Christ) and theological anthropology (the human being in Christian perspective). But in engaging such matters, he does so with a view not just to the church or to Christian believers. He does so with a view to the broader humanities, particularly, with an eye toward such fields as cultural studies, gender studies, and philosophy and literature. He has written the book Race: A Theological Account (New York: Oxford University Press, 2008) and is currently at work on another considering the ideological uses of Jesus in the modern invention of the human – the problem of “the cultural Jesus.”

Randal Jelks, associate professor of American studies and African American studies at the University of Kansas, has been awarded the 2013 Lillian Smith Book Award, which is sponsored by the Southern Regional Council, the University of Georgia Libraries, the Dekalb County Public Library, and the Georgia Center for the Book. Professor Jelks was honored for his book Benjamin Elijah Mays: Schoolmaster of the Movement (University of North Carolina Press, 2012). Mays, a minister and president of Morehouse College in Atlanta during the years of the civil rights movement, had a profound impact on Martin Luther King Jr. and other Black leaders of that time. Dr. Jelks is a graduate of the University of Michigan. He holds a master of divinity degree from McCormick Theological Seminary in Chicago and a Ph.D. in history from Michigan State University. He is an ordained minister of the Presbyterian Church. Before joining the faculty at the University of Kansas, Dr. Jelks taught at Calvin College in Grand Rapids, Michigan. 

The Paul Allen Lecture Series was made possible by an endowed fund established by the Winnetka Congregational Church in 1992, commemorating the retirement of their pastor, Paul Allen, a student, practitioner, teacher of pastoral care in McCormick's doctor of ministry program and clergy member of the Presbytery of Chicago. The purpose of the lectureship is to stimulate intellectual discussion of strategies for and applications of effective pastoral theology and pastoral care. In 2012, Dr. Emilie Townes gave the Allen Lectures.

The Black History Month and Martin Luther King, Jr. lectures are sponsored by the Center for African American Ministries and Black Church Studies at McCormick Theological Seminary.

For more information please call Priscilla Rodriquez at (773) 947-6310 or email