One of the nation’s leading researchers on the ethical complications of lynching will deliver Central Methodist University’s annual Gilbert and Ruth Fleer Lecture on Tuesday, April 10.
Angela Sims, Ph.D., and vice president of institutional advancement at St. Paul School of Theology in Overland Park, Kansas, will present “Then and Now: Black Bodies, Violence, and Racialized Rhetoric.” The hour-long event will be held at 7 p.m. in Linn Memorial United Methodist Church on CMU’s Fayette campus. Attendance is free and open to the public.
Sims’ research examines connections between faith, race, and violence with specific attention to historical and contemporary ethical implications of lynching and a culture of lynching in the United States.
“One of the reasons lynching was so effective following the legal demise of chattel slavery was the ability of its architects to use fear as a tool to control human behavior,” said Sims. “I find that fear is still used as a tool to shape human response which in turn can hinder our ability at both an individual and corporate level to act as agents of human justice.”
Principal investigator for an oral history project “Remembering Lynching: Strategies of Resistance and Visions of Justice,” Sims’ research has been supported by the Ford Foundation, the Womanist Scholars Program at the Interdenominational Theological Center, the Louisville Institute, the Wabash Center for Teaching and Learning in Theology and Religion, and the Institute for Oral History at Baylor University.
Sims, who is the Robert B. and Kathleen Rogers Associate Professor in Church and Society at St. Paul, is the author of Lynched: The Power of Memory in a Culture of Terror. She also wrote Ethical Complications of Lynching: Ida B. Wells’ Interrogation of American Terror, and was co-editor of Womanist Theological Ethics: A Reader, and lead author of Religio-Political Narratives in the United States: From Martin Luther King, Jr. through Jeremiah Wright.
A native of Louisiana, Sims grew up in the San Francisco Bay area. An ordained Baptist clergywoman who takes seriously the prophetic imperative “to do justice, love mercy, and walk humbly with God,” Sims is an active member and contributor to several academic guilds and faith-based community organizations.
Gilbert and Ruth Fleer, Bentonville, Ark., are the founders of the Fleer Lecture Series. Both are CMU alumni, and Gilbert was assistant professor of religion at Central from 1959 to 1965.
The 2018 Fleer Lecture is co-sponsored by CMU’s English, Foreign Languages, Philosophy and Religion division and by the CMU Advancement and Alumni Relations department.