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Civil Rights

Apples that Fell Far from the Tree: The Protest Stream Flowing from Nashville Christian Institute

When: June 10, 2021, 9:00 am - Thursday

Where: Ezell 207

Session 3

Session Abstract

Throughout his ministerial career Marshall Keeble passively acquiesced to white racism out of necessity. He accommodated to the southern practice of segregation in order to gain favor among white leaders within Churches of Christ who financially supported the school he led, Nashville Christian Institute. Numerous alumni of Nashville Christian Institute, however, spent their lives actively protesting the racial status quo. This session highlights the ministries and activism of three such NCI graduates who traveled in a different stream than did their teacher and mentor.


Paper Abstracts

DiArron Morrison, Abilene Christian University, “Transitioning: The Spiritual Life and Work of Molefi Asante”

Dr. Molefi Kete Asante is arguably the most prolific Africana scholar to ever emerge from the communication discipline. While Dr. Asante’s Afrocentric principles are well known and well-cited throughout several disciplines within academia, the impact of his former affiliation with the Churches of Christ on his spiritual, cultural, and intellectual formation is less well-known. This presentation traces Dr. Asante’s progression through education at Church of Christ affiliated schools and universities and the experiences that he highlights in his journey to becoming the Afrocentric scholar. Here, I discuss events that occurred at the Nashville Christian Institute, Harding University, and Pepperdine University.


Edward Robinson, Texas College, “Dismantling Segregation: The Religion and Politics of Fred D. Gray”

Fred D. Gray was a freedom fighter in African American Churches of Christ.  At a time when many in Churches of Christ either dismissed or evaded the civil rights movement, Gray was at the foremost of this significant work along with Martin Luther King, Jr. (1929-1968), Rosa Parks (1913-2005), and others.  Working against all odds, Gray toiled diligently to “destroy everything segregated I could find.”


Wes Crawford, Abilene Christian University, Convener

  • DiArron M., University of Memphis, “Transitioning: The Spiritual Life and Work of Molefi Asante”
  • Edward J. Robinson, Texas College, “Dismantling Segregation: The Religion and Politics of Fred D. Gray”
  • Tanya Smith Brice, Council on Social Work Education, Respondent

2024 information coming soon!

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James Cone with conferee at the CSC in 2017

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Pulitzer Prize winner Marilynne Robinson delivering the CSC plenary address

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Francis Collins, director of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), delivering the CSC plenary address.

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US Poet Laureate Tracy K. Smith delivering the CSC plenary address

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David Brooks engaging conferees during breakfast at the CSC

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