Almost two decades ago, the Episcopal Diocese of Atlanta responded to the General Convention mandate to offer anti-racism training to all leaders by forming a commission to address racism. Beloved Community: Commission for Dismantling Racism sought to heal the chronic illness of racism in our faith community by creating awareness of its existence in our ongoing spiritual formation.
By 2016, more than 1500 were touched by the Commission’s work. It was time to consider how to expand this important work to reach even more people. The Center for Racial Healing is the next step. It is where clergy, lay leaders, and community members can engage in a brave dialogue that leads to real and lasting change. Changed people can create change in our institutions, which in turn becomes change in our society.
The Center, which opened in October 2017, offers a model of prayerful education that forms and reforms individual and
collective action: a defined curriculum, thoughtful training, pilgrimages, and dialogue. Guided by faith and led by intention, the Center will continue its important work until our work is no longer needed. We seek the beloved community and the rewards of living life in that community - free of racism.
Logo Artwork by Melise Fathi
Absalom Jones Center for Racial Healing
“The Absalom Jones Center for Racial Healing is imagined as a brave space where there is enough courage to allow for racial healing and reconciliation to occur.” Within the sphere of this objective this logo is designed to honor and recognize the ones who have embarked on this journey thus far as well as inspire and encourage those who will set out on the journey through participation and leadership in this sacred and important work.
This logo integrates and combines African symbols from West Africa known as Adinkra. These are visual symbols created by the Ashanti of Ghana and the Gyaman of Cote d’Ivoire in West Africa. The two symbols are Woforo Dua PA A and Mpatapo. In their meanings we may interpret the embodiment of the vision, mission, and goals of this center.
Woforo Dua PA A is the symbol of support, cooperation and encouragement. This is taken from the expression “Woforo dua pa a, na yepia wo”, meaning “When you climb a good tree you are given a push.” This expression promises that if you work for a good cause you will get support. The second symbol incorporated into the logo is Mpatapo, or “the knot of pacification and reconciliation.” This symbol embodies reconciliation and peacemaking after strife. Those who may find themselves in dispute are united and bound together in peace, harmony and reconciliation. The logo features Mpatapo at the center as in our reconciliation and peace surrounded and supported by Woforo Dua PA A. Our vision and goals of the center through the work of dismantling systemic racism and personal prejudice is embraced and surrounded by the support, encouragement and cooperation of those who seek and foster racial healing.
Along with designs and symbols, color may also convey symbolism and meaning. The colors of Kente cloth, a colorful woven cloth of South Ghana may be utilized. In Kente cloth maroon represents Mother Earth and healing; green represents spiritual growth and renewal. Blue represents peace, togetherness and harmony. This logo is designed with the mission, goals, and vision of the center as its inspiration and hope.
Catherine Meeks, PhD, is Executive Director of the Absalom Jones Center for Racial Healing. Prior to the center's opening she chaired its precursor, Beloved Community: Commission for Dismantling Racism for the Episcopal Diocese of Atlanta. A sought-after teacher and workshop leader, Catherine brings four decades of experience to the work of transforming the dismantling racism work in Atlanta. The core of her work has been with people who have been marginalized because of economic status, race, gender or physical ability as they pursue liberation, justice and access to resources that can help lead them to health, wellness and a more abundant life. This work grows out of her understanding of her call to the vocation of teacher as well as her realization that all of humanity is one family which God desires to unite.
Catherine is the retired Clara Carter Acree Distinguished Professor of Socio-Cultural Studies from Wesleyan College and Founding Executive Director of the Lane Center for Community Engagement and Service. She characterizes herself as a midwife to the soul of her students and workshop participants. She has spent many years sharing the insights that she gained from her pursuit of the truth. She has had many great teachers including her sons, the Bible, Jungian psychology, cross cultural stories and other books of wisdom. But her greatest teacher is rheumatoid arthritis because it has forced her to learn many new ways to listen to her body and to pay attention to the messages from her heart. She is frequently asked to present commentaries on Georgia Public Radio and other radio and television programs. She is the author of six books and one inspirational CD and is the editor of the bestselling book, Living Into God’s Dream: Dismantling Racism in America and co-author of Passionate for Justice: Ida B Wells as Prophet for Our Times. She holds a Master’s Degree in Social Work from Clark Atlanta University and PhD from Emory University.
Dr. Catherine Meeks
BOARD OF DIRECTORS
The Rev. Matthew Heyd - Chair
Sheryl Bowen || The Rev. Shaneequa Isaiah Brokenleg ||
The Rev. Canon David Ulloa Chavez || The Honorable Clint Deveaux || Judy Fielder || LaFawn Gilliam || The Rev. Simon Mainwaring || The Rt. Rev. Brian N. Prior ||
The Venerable Juan Sandoval || Malinda Shamburger ||
The Rev. Fabio Sotelo || The Rev. Canon Stephanie Spellers || Ken Stewart