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Claudia May delivers keynote address at Beloved Community Symposium

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Claudia May delivers keynote address at Beloved Community Symposium

Dr. Claudia May gives the keynote address at the Beloved Community Symposium. Photo by Mitch Robinson.

Dr. Claudia May gives the keynote address at the Beloved Community Symposium. Photo by Mitch Robinson.

Dr. Claudia May gives the keynote address at the Beloved Community Symposium. Photo by Mitch Robinson.

Dr. Claudia May gives the keynote address at the Beloved Community Symposium. Photo by Mitch Robinson.

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Claudia May delivered the keynote address for the first installment of Mercer University’s fifth-annual Beloved Community Symposium Feb. 26. May is a professor at Bethel University in St. Paul, Minnesota, where she teaches reconciliation studies.

The Beloved Community Symposium is an annual event founded by pastor John Marson Dunaway in 2005 as a way to help religious communities demonstrate unity and collaboration in issues involving race and denomination.

During May’s speech, she spoke about the struggle of Caribbean peoples in England due to colonialism and different social customs. She described multiple instances of racial discrimination that Caribbeans experienced in the United Kingdom.

“The one thing the government brochures and pictures and newsreels and pamphlets selling the virtues of England did not tell these Caribbean subjects,” May said, “was that when they arrived and tried to secure a place to live, they were met with rental signs that would say, ‘no Irish, no dogs and no n-words.’”

She also talked about how Caribbeans in the U.K. persevered during these times.

“In the midst of it all, these Caribbean subjects, these black people of the African diaspora, found ways to experience communal expressions of black joy and agency that emphasized that a colonized people do not have to experience a colonized mindset,” May said.

She talked about the concept of “hush harbors,” which she explained as places of safety and joy for victims of slavery and struggling communities that allowed them to feel.

May read multiple poems, one of them being “My Name Is Not Those People” by Julia Dinsmore. One of the main points she emphasized was that someone’s physical condition does not have to be their spiritual condition.

“As Julia K. Dinsmore, my friend, says, we are not our poverty, we are not our homelessness, we are not our incarcerations, we are not our legal status. We are people experiencing the tragedy (of) how wealth and resources are designed to flow unequally,” May said. “Even when you deal with impoverishment, that does not mean your spirit has to be impoverished.”

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Claudia May delivers keynote address at Beloved Community Symposium