Second Annual Womanist Symposium in January 2013

The Graduate Theological Union, San Francisco Theological Seminary, and McGee Avenue Baptist Church in Berkeley are teaming up to offer the second annual Womanist Symposium entitled “But Who Do They Say I Am?”

The symposium will be held Saturday, Jan. 12, at McGee Avenue Baptist Church, 1640 Stuart Street, Berkeley, from 8 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.

“This symposium offers an opportunity to engage womanist theology within the context of Black women in the local church setting,” said Rev. Dr. Martha Taylor, symposium convener and adjunct faculty member at SFTS. “By holding the symposium in a church setting, it bridges the gap between the academy and the church. Taking the academy to the church is an excellent opportunity to engage theory with praxis.”  

The Womanist Symposium is part of the Black Church/Africana Religious Studies Certificate Program offered through the GTU. The certificate program director is Rev. Dr. James Noel, professor of American Religion at SFTS and the H. Eugene Farlough, Jr. Chair of African American Christianity.

The event is open to the public. The emphasis is geared toward seminarians, scholars and people interested in two critical issues that impact the African American community:

  •  “Media Madness” will bring to light how the media has a history of stereotyping African American women negatively, resulting in a misrepresentation in the ways Black women are perceived by America. The depictions of Black women in the media as domestics, Jezebels, welfare queens and hypersexual beings serves to perpetuate a long standing history that casts Black women negatively. The invited scholars will use a womanist approach to counter these depictions through the praxis of responsibility and action. (Presenters:  Dr. Joi Carr, Pepperdine University professor, and Margaret B. Wilkerson, University of California, Berkeley, professor emeriti)  
  • “My Mama’s Shoes Don’t Fit My Feet” will discuss the intergenerational divide. Black youth/young adults grow up in a pop culture society. Yet, they stand on the shoulders of their ancestors without the lived experiences of the struggles for equal human rights during the Jim Crow era. Many of the older generation feel there is a lack of appreciation for the struggle that opened the doors. What is a womanist approach to building a bridge between the generations? (Presenter: Dr. Jacqueline Thompson; Respondents: Angelina Graham, psychologist, and Vivian Wells, American Baptist Seminary of the West student)

Rochelle Rawls Shaw is an SFTS Master of Divinity student currently undergoing her internship with the Presbyterian Ministry at the United Nations. She attended last year’s symposium and says it was life-changing.

“It has helped shape me into the confident woman I have become,” Rawls Shaw said. “Being in the company of brilliant, intelligent and compassionate women of faith allowed me to see myself in their reflections. There is something divine about boldly asking and answering the question ‘But Who Do They Say I am?’”

Registration includes materials, continental breakfast and catered lunch.  Registration is available online at Or send the completed form and payment to Black Church/Africana Religious Studies, c/o Rev. Dr. Martha C. Taylor, 3828 Sequoyah Road, Oakland, CA 94605.