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College of Social Work

Newman Institute to Co-Sponsor Talk by Former Ferguson Commission Co-Chair

Mar. 19, 2019

Michael Brown Jr., an unarmed black teenager, was shot and killed by a white police officer in the St. Louis suburb of Ferguson, Mo. on Aug. 9, 2014, promoting weeks of protests. Three months later, Missouri Governor Jay Nixon created the Ferguson commission to conduct a “thorough, wide-ranging and unflinching study of the social and economic conditions that impede progress, equity and safety in the St. Louis region.

Rev. Starsky D. Wilson, who was appointed co-chair of the Ferguson commission, will speak to the University of South Carolina community on Thursday, Apr. 4, 2019 from 6 to 7:30 p.m. at the Booker T. Washington Auditorium (1400 Wheat St.). His talk is titled, The Truth of Reconciliation: Leadership for American Apartheid.

“Starsky is a nationally-recognized civil rights speaker and activist,” said Kirk Foster, Associate Dean for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion at the College of Social Work. “He has devoted his life to breaking down the walls of injustice and building strong communities rooted in equity. As co-chair of the Ferguson Commission, Starsky has been instrumental in policy reform focused on housing, income and employment, health care access, and education for the St. Louis metropolitan area.”

In 2015, the Ferguson Commission released the ground-breaking, Forward Through Ferguson: A Path Toward Racial Equity report, calling for sweeping changes in policing, the courts, child well-being and economic mobility.

Rev. Wilson is currently president and CEO of Deaconess Foundation, a faith-based grant making organization devoted to advancing child well-being in St. Louis through racial equality and public policy change. Since 1998, the Deaconess Foundation has invested more than $85 million to advance its mission. From 2008 to 2018, Rev. Wilson led St. John’s United Church of Christ (The Beloved Community), an inter-racial, inner-city congregation in St. Louis. He led activism on a variety of issues, including youth violence prevention, Medicaid expansion and voter mobilization, while more than quadrupling worship attendance and annual giving.  

Rev. Wilson earned a bachelor’s degree in political science from Xavier University of Louisiana, Master of Divinity from Eden Theological Seminary and is currently completing his doctoral thesis, The Truth of Reconciliation: Leadership for American Apartheid, at Duke Divinity School.

“Students will leave inspired to make change in their communities,” said Foster. “Specifically, students will understand better how racism in this country has created vastly different opportunity structures for white and non-white America. Students will leave the event with insight into what steps are needed to create a more equitable society.”

The event is co-sponsored by the college’s I. DeQuincey Newman Institute for Peace and Justice, as well as the College of Arts and Sciences, the African American Studies Program and Rule of Law Collaborative.

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