The Mercer Lyceum was developed by the University and commenced for the 2011 fall term to support lectures and events centered on the theme of “Rebuilding Democracy.”
This theme will last until Spring 2013. The events are open to the community. The most recent took place Oct. 20 in the Medical School Auditorium. Mercer welcomed Dr. Johnny B. Hill, who presented the lecture “Our President is Black, Now What? Race Relations and the Obama Presidency.” Dr. Johnny B. Hill is a pastor, professor and author of The First Black President: Barack Obama, Race, Politics, and the American Dream. He is a leading advocate for human rights, social justice, global peace and reconciliation.
As stated by Louisville Presbyterian Theological Seminary, Dr. Hill is “a graduate of Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary (Ph.D.) in Evanston, Ill. He also earned degrees from Duke Divinity School (M.Div.; Th.M.), and a Bachelor in Sociology from Morehouse College in Atlanta, Ga…He is co-chair of the consultation for the Theology of Martin Luther King Jr. with the American Academy of Religion.”
Dr. Hill also co-founded the Foundation for Reconciliation and Dialogue with renowned theologian J. Deotis Robert. He is the current president of the foundation and pastor of the historic Greater Good Hope Baptist Church in Louisville, Ky.
The topics that were discussed by Dr. Hill included history repeating itself, the concern of people losing that personal connection through social networks and the uncomfortable use of the word race along with the presidency of Barack Obama.
Mr. Jeremy Tate, who is an author and social commentator, shared a poem he wrote titled The Blackness. Tate has a book titled Heaven and Hell and Eating Too Many Lemon Heads, which is a collection of poetry and artwork done by Barbara Baca. He has appeared on aibtv.com with host Angie Wright-Rheaves and he has written for a number of websites including thyblackman.com and Rolling Out Magazine.
Tate has been pursuing his writing career for three years now. When asked of what Tate did to prepare for this lyceum he stated, “I practiced breathing some. First time I ever read my poetry aloud to so many people. College kids are intimidating.”
In addition, Tate shared that within his career he most enjoys the “freedom to express myself as honestly as possible. Writing consistently presents that freedom as a joy and a challenge.”
The event was co-sponsored by Campus Life, Minority Affairs, Student Support Services, Organization of Black Students, Quadworks and the Urban CEO/MCEO.
Many students and faculty were in attendance including Michelle Currie, director of federal TRIO programs; Vice President and Dean of Students, Dr. Doug Pearson; Dr. Mary Alice Morgan, senior vice provost for service Learning; and Carrie F. Ingoldsby, director of campus life and student involvement.
The lecture was followed by a question and answer session with an in-depth discussion of the topics led by Mr. Dominique Johnson, coordinator for the Upward Bound program.
Junior Nakita James shared, “I enjoyed the combination of Dr. Hill and Jeremy Tate. Their linking together for the lecture demonstrates how the fight for racial equality is not just for the older generation. It’s our fight too.”