Luce-Hartford Conference Examines Relationship between Black Christians and Muslims

The 2019 Luce-Hartford Conference in Christian-Muslim Relations brought African American Christians and Muslims together in a rare opportunity to examine their shared history.

Black Church – Black Mosque: A Shared History in American Society drew about 80 scholars and participants to Hartford Seminary on June 17 and 18. The conference was supported by a generous grant from the Henry Luce Foundation.

Imam Ronald Shaheed, Assistant Imam of Masjid Ash Shaheed in Charlotte, NC, gave the first keynote, addressing The History and Legacy of African-American Interfaith Relations in a Racially Divided America.

Awad Abdullah, a graduate of Hartford Seminary’s Islamic Chaplaincy Program, shared reflections on both days of the conference. They are reproduced here: Luce Conference - Awad Abdullah's reflections 2019

The Rev. Dr. Susan K. Smith of Crazy Faith Ministries in Columbus, OH, gave the second keynote: Current Issues Impacting African-American Christian-Muslim Relations.


Khalil Abdullah, MA ’18, Muslim Advisor at the William Jewett Tucker Center at Dartmouth College, moderated a Q&A with Imam Shaheed and the Rev. Dr. Smith.

Day One of the conference ended with a panel discussion on African-American Christian-Muslim Relations in Public Places. The panelists were: Nisa Muhammad, Assistant Dean of Religious Life at Howard University; The Rev. Bonita Grubbs, Executive Director of Christian Community Action in New Haven; and Imam Dr. Bilal Ansari, ICP ’11, Director of Campus Engagement and Acting Director of the Davis Center at Williams College, MA.

Day Two of the conference began with a screening of the 2016 film on James Baldwin, I am Not Your Negro.

Sister Laila Muhammad, Executive Director of the Compassion Action Foundation in New Jersey, gave a keynote on The Experience of African-American Interfaith Relations.

Sister Muhammad was followed by Dr. Frederick L. Ware, Associate Dean for Academic Affairs and Associate Professor of Theology at the Howard University School of Divinity, who spoke about The Challenge of Christian-Muslim Relations in Contemporary Black Theology.

The Bishop Dr. Benjamin K. Watts, Faculty Associate in Religion and Community Life and Director of the Black Ministries Program, moderated the Q&A with Sister Muhammad and Dr. Ware.

Day Two’s panel was on Race, Racism, and Interfaith Relations, and featured Dr. Jamelia N. Morgan, Associate Professor of Law and Robert D. Glass Scholar at the University of Connecticut School of Law; Imam Kashif Abdul-Karim of the Hartford Muhammad Mosque; and The Rev. Dr. Valerie H. Holly of Judson Memorial Church in New York City.




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