Howard University religion and culture scholar to succeed Michael Jinkins who retires Sept. 2
Alton Pollard IIIWith a student body that represents 20 different denominations, Louisville Presbyterian Theological Seminary has named a scholar of diverse religions and cultures as its tenth president.

The Louisville Seminary Board of Trustees voted June 7 to appoint the Rev. Dr. Alton B. Pollard III as president. A scholar, author, consultant and speaker on the subject of African American religion and culture, Pollard was previously dean of the School of Divinity and professor of Religion and Culture at Howard University in Washington, D.C.

Louisville Seminary offers master’s and doctorate degree programs that prepare graduates for a number of roles in ministry and administration for Presbyterian and other church denominations as well as for marriage and family therapy.

Pollard said he was drawn both by the history and the current trajectory of Louisville Seminary.

“Rare is the theological institution today that innovates well in contemporary society, modeling theological education for just inclusivity in an increasingly diverse world,” Pollard said. “As much of our society is focused on division, I will ensure that Louisville Seminary will continue to build bridges between people of different religious, social and cultural perspectives, through teaching and scholarship, and the preparation of persons for lives of faithful witness and public service.”

Prior to his eleven years at Howard University, Pollard served as director of Black Church Studies and chair of American Religious Cultures at Emory University, and taught at Wake Forest University and St. Olaf College. He earned degrees from Duke University, Harvard University Divinity School and Fisk University.

Pollard has authored, co-authored and edited a number of books and journal articles. He serves on the Board of Directors for the In Trust Center for Theological Schools and the Advisory Committee for the Luce Fund for Theological Education. He served on the Board of Commissioners for the Association of Theological Schools from 2010-2016 and was chair from 2014-2016. A native of St. Paul, Minnesota, Pollard and his wife Jessica have two adult children.

President transition this September
Current Seminary President Rev. Dr. Michael Jinkins announced his retirement in April 2017. Pollard will begin work as president at the start of the fall semester this September and will be formally inaugurated in spring 2019.

Pollard’s appointment follows a national search conducted by a presidential search committee including several Seminary trustees, faculty members, and other seminary constituents and led by Board Chair Lant B. Davis of Birmingham, Alabama.

“Dr. Pollard embodies Louisville Seminary’s long tradition of bridging differences within the church and broader society,” said Davis. “He will affirm and further develop our historic Presbyterian emphasis on inter-denominational cooperation. Under his leadership I hope the Seminary will demonstrate a way forward through some of the most divisive issues of our time. He is a principled peacemaker.”

Jinkins will continue to serve as president until September 2. During his eight-year tenure, Louisville Seminary launched its bold Covenant for the Future vision which made full-tuition scholarships available for every master’s degree student and, by 2021, will provide stipends for living expenses. The only seminary in the country to offer this benefit, Louisville Seminary students participating in the scholarship “pay the debt forward” by engaging in learning and service opportunities that enhance their opportunities for leadership in church and non-profit sectors.

Other highlights of Jinkins’ leadership include the growth of the Seminary’s Marriage and Family Therapy program, one of only four seminary-based accredited programs in the nation, and the Doors to Dialogue program that prepares students to lead in a world of growing religious differences and needs including immigrant communities, urban centers, intolerance and environmental preservation.

“Dr. Pollard’s reputation as an eminent scholar and renowned leader precedes him,” said Jinkins. “I believe he is precisely the leader Louisville Seminary needs for the next chapter in its history. And I feel honored to welcome him as the next president of the Seminary.”

About Louisville Seminary
Louisville Presbyterian Theological Seminary is one of ten theological schools in the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), and was historically the only Presbyterian seminary to be supported by both the northern and southern branches of the Presbyterian Church simultaneously. The United Methodist denomination also recognizes the Louisville Seminary as a place for its candidates to receive theological education. With students from more than 20 denominations, Louisville Seminary welcomes individuals from the wider ecumenical community.

Louisville Seminary offers Master of Divinity, Master of Arts in Religion and Master of Arts in Marriage and Family Therapy degrees, as well as the Doctor of Ministry degree.

Originally founded in 1853 in Danville, Kentucky, Louisville Seminary is located in Louisville’s Cherokee/Seneca neighborhood on a scenic 67-acre campus.

Presented from National Center of Bioethics in Research & Healthcare and the Tuskegee & Macon County Bridge Builders Program on October 10, 2017 for her accomplishments and commitment to our youth in Macon County! Pictured left to right are Dr’s. Otis Head, Jacqueline Brooks & Rueben Warren. Dr. Brooks on that morning presented to the Bridge Builders, being a Macon County born and raised here, on “Growing up Country”! The Bridge Builders (staff, mentors & our special guest Dr. Ann Gallagher) totally enjoyed the presentation and the interaction,

By: Ann Gallagher

As I was writing this blog, reports came in of a church shooting in Texas, resulting in the death of 26 members of the congregation and at least 20 injured. The media focus thus far has been on preventative strategies such as arming volunteers at church services.

A week ago, I was invited to a church service in Tuskegee and had privileged access to the congregation’s reflections on, and celebration of,  their faith. The service was more participatory than any I had experienced previously and included uplifting singing and music. Towards the end of the service there was an invitation to help with a drive-by food bank. On the following morning, I joined with volunteers from two churches to prepare food bags to distribute to 165 families who queued in their cars to collect a range of drinks, vegetables and other groceries. There was a good deal of humour and banter between volunteers and food recipients. Good people from different churches doing ethical work.

This week I am attending the American Public Health conference in Atlanta which is on the theme of: ‘Creating the Healthiest Nation: Climate Changes Health’. The introductory talks and films left the thousands of participants in no doubt that climate change is real and there is a need for urgent action to slow down the potentially devastating consequences for the environment, human health and for other species. ‘Health’ several speakers said, is a right, not a privilege.

A center that brings together rights and church is the Center for Civil and Human Rights which I visited this afternoon. The center details the story of the US Civil Rights movement and connects this with global Human Rights. The story is compelling and impactful. One of the most challenging aspects is the simulation of a sit-in where you are invited to put on headphones and to experience abusive messages and feel as if  your chair is being kicked. You are asked: ‘How long can you last? Put on a pair of headphones and put your hands flat on the designated areas.  Experience a simulated response to your non-violent protest and see how long you can keep calm with your hands steady on the counter. Try it with your eyes closed.’ (see www.civilandhumanrights.org).

 

When I arrived in Tuskegee just over a month ago, I knew little of the intensity and reach of church activities in the southern states. I recently read Albert Raboteau’s book ‘Slave Religion’ which helped me better appreciate the history and complexity of African-American religions. Until today, I had not appreciated how pervasive and strong the role of the churches was in relation to the civil rights movement. The religious beliefs of Martin Luther King is evident in his talks and writing and it is clear that much civil rights activity was influenced by church teaching.

So a church massacre, a drive-by food bank, civil rights…

What can be said that they have in common is that they relate to different aspects of public health.  It was clear that there was a need for the food bank provisions which make some contribution to improved family health. It was repeated several times at  today’s conference is that health is a human right. This right is not as yet established. Regarding a public health perspective on gun violence, you might find this piece by Steve Miles of interest – https://www.minnpost.com/second-opinion/2013/04/guns-and-bioethics-qa-steve-miles

The city of Flint, Mich., is in the midst of a water crisis several years in the making. The city opted out of Detroit’s water supply and began drawing water from the Flint River in April 2014, part of a cost-saving move. Eighteen months later, in the fall of 2015, researchers discovered that the proportion of children with above-average lead levels in their blood had doubled.

The city reconnected to Detroit’s water system in October, but the damage was done. Water from the Flint River was found to be highly corrosive to the lead pipes still used in some parts of the city. Even though Flint River water no longer flows through the city’s pipes, it’s unclear how long those pipes will continue to leach unsafe levels of lead into the tap water supply. Experts currently say the water is safe for bathing, but not drinking.

A group of Virginia Tech researchers who sampled the water in 271 Flint homes last summer found some contained lead levels high enough to meet the EPA’s definition of “toxic waste.”

The researchers posted their test results online, which I represent graphically below with other visuals to help understand just how high above normal Flint’s lead levels really were.

Lead in water is measured in terms of parts per billion (ppb). If a test comes back with lead levels higher than 15 ppb, the EPA recommends that homeowners and municipalities take steps to reduce that level, like updating pipes and putting anti-corrosive elements in the water when appropriate.

But 15 ppb is a regulatory measure, not a public health one. Researchers stress that there is no 100 percent “safe” level of lead in drinking water, only acceptable levels. Even levels as low as 5 ppb can be a cause for concern, according to the group studying Flint’s water.

So let’s start with Flint’s neighboring cities. At the city level, public health officials are most concerned with the 90th percentile level of lead exposure in homes they test — that is, 90 percent of homes will have a lead level belowthis threshold, while 10 percent will register above it.

Concerned Marion citizens listen to officials from the ADPH about the update on the tuberculosis outbreak.

Concerned Marion citizens listen to officials from the ADPH about the update on the tuberculosis outbreak.

West Central Alabama is dealing with an outbreak of Tuberculosis.  APR’s MacKenzie Bates went to the city of Marion to find out what officials are doing to contain the respiratory disease…

The community of Marion is tucked in to Perry County. It might seem like a quaint town–very rural, not a lot of traffic lights and a small population.  Less than 36-hundred people live here, to be exact.  If anything happens in Marion, no matter how big or small, the folks hear about it. That includes Tuberculosis

“In the state of Alabama the case rate is 2.8. It’s 253 here in the town of Marion.”

That’s Pam Barrett.  She’s the director of the division of TB control for the Alabama Department of Public Health.  The rates in Marion alone are 100 times greater than the state average, and worse than many developing countries like Kenya, Bangladesh and China.

“I would say that there are probably not very many towns at all in the United States that have a case rate that high,” Barrett says.  

“Why do you think it’s so high?”  

“Because of the number of cases that have not shared their contacts and people have not come forward to be screened and be treated preventively.” 

That’s despite the fact that Tuberculosis can be fatal. Since January of 2014, 20 people have tested positive for “Active TB” in Marion alone and six more in the surrounding counties.  Three of those patients have died. Since persuasion wasn’t working, health officials resorted to Plan-B. B as in bribery. The state is offering $20 to anyone in Marion to get tested at the Health Department.

“When they sent the flyer out paying people to come and be tested, I’m thinking we’ve got something bad going on here.”

That’s Bennie Royster.  She attended a town hall meeting last week along with about 50 other residents at Francis Marion High School’s auditorium.  She hasn’t been tested for TB but she wanted to come to the meeting for a better understanding of the disease.

“Listening at them tonight, I’m less afraid,” Royster says.  “And if I were to come down with TB, because I asked this question about the privacy act like they said because we’ve had so many people that have already died in Perry County, I wish I knew the person.  Because if I knew the person, then I know to go and be tested.” 

Fellow Marion resident Cynthia Bagley…says she took her and her family to get tested for TB at the Perry County Health Department not to just grab a quick buck but to be on the safe side.

“I got there a little after one and I stayed until 25 after three,” Bagley says.  “I was the last one.”

“I wanted to make sure my grandkids are also tested because with me just getting tested we still wouldn’t know.  With my grandkids in the family, they’re around me so I don’t feel like it would be right for me to be tested and my grandkids not get tested.”

The results are still coming in but just short of 800 people have come in to the Health Department in a week to be tested.  Of those tested, they have identified 37 people infected with the TB bacteria, but they’re not infectious.  More results are expected to be released in the coming days.

That’s about $16,000 in a week of testing and it’s expected to climb this week as more people come in to get tested.  Pam Barrett says the money handed out to people for the tests are provided by grants from the Center for Disease and Control and Prevention.  People can also earn more money with follow-up visits, getting a chest x-ray and anyone infected who completes treatment.

Bennie Royster saw the long lines at the Health Department and was concerned she might not be able to find time to get her and her family tested.

“The first day, there were so many people at the health department it scared me,” Royster says.  “So I got all of my grandbabies and I called my primary doctor in Hale County and see if I could bring them over to be tested and they told me it was going to stay contained to Marion.” 

Barrett says the Health Department is still looking for the cause of the outbreak.

“We believe there are possibly two or three that could have been the initial cases that kind of started that,” Barrett says.  “But because of the lack of them giving contact information in people that they have been around, that just made it more difficult for us.” 

So Barrett and the rest of the Alabama Department of Public Health are relying on its citizens to get the word out about being tested. Cynthia Bagley of Marion knows one of the three people who died.  She is doing her part to help eradicate the outbreak.

“I did encourage them to go get tested and they was also when I went do so hopefully everything with them will turn out okay,” Bagley says.

With appropriate antibiotic treatment, TB can be cured in most people. For active tuberculosis patients, it can take longer than six months. Preventive treatment for people who test positive for tuberculosis but don’t show symptoms can take up to six months.

  JAN 18, 2016

To hear the interview click here. 

I was fortunate along with four surviving wives and other descendants of the 623 African American men in the United States Public Health Service Syphilis Study in Tuskegee to be present at the 1997 Presidential Apology by then President William Clinton in the White House. The National Apology to the 8 surviving men and all of the men descendants as well as the nation was personal and started the journey to healing and forgiveness. The apology pulled out some deep rooted myths many people had about Our Fathers, such as they were lazy,
uneducated, and uncaring. Today, their descendants through Voices of Our Fathers Foundation are beginning to tell and share their stories. These were men of courage and dignity, hard workers and deeply spiritual, They wanted the best for their families and the small county of Macon.

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Transracial, a word unfamiliar to some, ridiculous to many, and understood by few has recently taken the media by storm. Rachel Dolezal, a now former National Association for the Advancement of Colored People Chapter President has unintentionally brought attention to a subject that indeed deserves real discussion. Dolezal is defined racially by society as a Caucasian American Woman, but identifies herself definitely as a Black woman. Her Caucasian American parents revealed that their daughter has been “deceiving” her peers for a very long time, her birth father wonders why she cannot do the same work and good she has been doing for years but as a Caucasian American. In here lies the ethical problem.

Some may see what Rachel did as deception, but the fact of the matter is it can’t be considered that on the basis of what she believes; this mother of two boys, that look just like myself and millions of other African American men, identifies herself as Black. It was not her intention to approach this as a mockery, as most of society perceives it, but simply as her way of life. Who are we, as Americans to tell another person that their race is not what they say it is based on what society defines race to be? Transgenders are allowed to identify with the gender that they feel they are, they choose the restrooms that they enter, the clothes that they wear, and in some instances have even been incarcerated in the facilities that they identify with. If society can gradually become accepting of transgenders, I see no reason that the rules should change for the now, transracials.

On the other hand, what if she is indeed a con artist, someone who has been planning this “revealing” for years, can we blame the mass majority of people for not agreeing with this new way of life? Although identity includes how one views self, it is also important to realize it has a lot to do with how society views. To be clear, the ethical problem here lies not in Rachel Dolezal’s actions but the society we live in. It could be argued that this woman has done more positive for the Black community than those that criticize her story. Society dictates social norms. The ethical problematic here is quite simple, it is society telling her she is not what/who she says she identifies with. I say that the ethical problem here, is “us” as Americans.

 

Davie Rickenbacker

Public Health Ethics FellowWatch Consumed (2015) Full Movie Online Streaming Online and Download

Tuskegee University

National Center For Bioethics in Research & HealthCare

 

Rachel Dolezal began connecting with the African American community at an early age in her life. In a recent interview with NBC, she mentioned identifying herself as Black by drawing herself with a brown crayon instead of peach crayon at the age of five.

Naturally she began identifying herself as one within the community and chose a life of advocacy and empowerment to become an American Civil Rights activist. As a self-proclaimed academic expert of African American culture, President of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) chapter in Spokane, Washington as well as chairwoman of the police oversight committee tasked with overseeing police fairness, Rachel Dolezal created a reputation for achieving such equality among African Americans. However, would all her progressive accomplishments be thwarted due to the depth of deception she was able to keep up for years?

Born of Caucasian ancestry, Rachel Dolezal created and lived a life as an African American woman. Among few who have the ability to live in both worlds of being black and white, Rachel Dolezal possesses the fluidity to move in and out of privilege when convenient. Does this promote an ethical dilemma? Is it illegal and morally wrong to identify yourself as another race in a country considered a melting pot?

In light of her recent controversy, her passion for advocacy and empowerment does not have to stop here. Can she have the same influence and impact as a Caucasian woman in the African American community? Her parents surely believe in her. Only time will tell but one must be confident in who they are and what they are to create a deep and long lasting legacy they aspire and live for.

DeChino Duke
Public Health Ethics Fellow
National Center for Bioethics in Research and Healthcare at Tuskegee University
Morehouse School of Medicine MPH Student