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Black Spirituals & Protest Songs: Singing for Personal & Social Liberation

Residential Program
Dates: Dec 08, 2023 - Dec 11, 2023
Days: Friday - Monday
Number of Nights: 3 nights

Instructor(s): Melanie L. Harris and Joshuah Brian Campbell

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Program Description:

Chants and dharma songs have played an important role in every Buddhist culture, addressing suffering, joy, and liberation in ways that speak to the heart. What would it mean to engage the Social Protest songs of the Civil Rights Movement, songs of suffering, joy, and liberation, as a dharma gate? These songs emboldened people across the world to lift up their heads, claim their humanity, and declare hope in spite of the realities of generational racial trauma. Crying out, and singing strong for social justice, voting rights, democracy, and freedom, this music inspired millions to move their bodies, minds, and spirits towards social action to transform society. This program invites participants into an exploration of liberation through the history of movement songs, Buddhist meditation, active listening, and being with the sacred tradition of African American Spirituals. Sessions will provide historical contexts for music inspired by the Spirituals tradition and invite practitioners into heart transformation as music becomes a base for mindful meditation, joy, and spiritual friendship. The program is open to all participants and no musical training is required– just an appreciation for music and song.

In order to create a diverse student body, at least 1/3 of the spaces will be held for BIPOC participants until two months before the program opening. At that time, held spaces will be opened to any participants on the waiting list. You are encouraged to join the waiting list even if the program appears to be full.

Noble Silence:
Noble silence will be observed following each evening session through breakfast the following morning. Additional silent practice periods will be scheduled throughout the program.

Experience Level:
Suitable for beginning and experienced practitioners.

Cancellation Policy:
This policy applies to all residential programs, including Paths. If you need to cancel your registration, please contact us as soon as possible. Please note cancellation fees are at most $50 for those receiving financial assistance. As of 2023, 100% of your deposit is forfeited if you cancel less than two weeks before the program start date and there is a $50 cancellation fee if you cancel two weeks or more in advance. Beginning in 2024, prior to six weeks before the program start date, cancellation fees are $50 for all programs more than two nights and $25 for programs two nights or less. 50% of your deposit is forfeited if you cancel between two and six weeks of the program start date. 100% of your deposit is forfeited if you cancel less than two weeks before the program start date.

Covid-19 Safety Protocol:
Please review our Covid-19 Safety Protocols here: https://www.buddhistinquiry.org/covid-19/.

As we work to become a more diverse, equitable, and inclusive community, we invite feedback/suggestions you may have regarding ways that we can make participation in the program more accessible and welcoming. Please email us at contact@buddhistinquiry.org.
    About the Instructor(s):
  • Dr. Melanie L. Harris is Founding Director of African American and Africana Studies and full Professor of Religion and Ethics at TCU. A graduate of the Harvard Leadership Program, she is an educator and community leader whose passion is linked to a commitment to social justice.  Dr. Harris is also a Womanist scholar of Religious Studies. Her research engages Buddhist-Christian Dialogue, Critical Race Theory, Religion and Environmental Ethics. Melanie has been a practitioner of Buddhist meditation for many years, and integrates this work into her life as a Christian clergy leader, retreat guide, and yoga instructor.

  • Joshuah Brian Campbell is the Director of Music and Arts at Wake Forest School of Divinity and Director of the University Gospel Choir. In addition to a Bachelor’s degree from Harvard, Campbell also holds a Master of Divinity degree from Union Theological Seminary in the City of New York. He is a leading artist contributing much needed work in the areas of music, film, and social justice. Campbell captured the world’s attention with his original song “Sing Out/March On,” written in 2014 and performed in 2018 for the late Congressman John Lewis. The viral success caught the attention of Hollywood. His original composition “Stand Up” for the film Harriet, co-written with the film’s lead Cynthia Erivo, earned him Critics Choice, Golden Globe, and Oscar nominations. Joshuah is an ordained Christian clergyperson of Bapti-Metho-Costal (Baptist, Methodist, and Pentecostal) roots from Cheraw, South Carolina.