This year’s program includes the inspiring speaker Pastor Willie Dwayne Francois III, Senior Pastor-Elect of Fountain Baptist Church in Summit, NJ, President of the Black Church Center for Justice and Equality, and author of Silencing White Noise: Six Practices to Overcome Our Inaction on Race. He is a 2009 Phi Beta Kappa graduate of Morehouse College with a Bachelor of Arts in History and Religion, named the ranking scholar in both departments. While at Morehouse, he was named the 2009 Martin Luther King Jr. Scholar. Francois received the Master of Divinity from Harvard University's Divinity School, where he received the Hopkins Shareholders Award—the school's highest academic recognition—and served as the class of 2012 commencement speaker. In 2020, Francois earned the Doctor of Ministry degree from Emory University, where his research met at intersection of antiracism, theology and anti-incarceration policy advocacy. His pastoral activism is organized around racial equity, economic justice and radical criminal justice and education reforms. Nationally, as an antiracism curricula developer and educator, he has worked with Latinx, Black, Asian, and White Christian congregations looking to combat racism and frame their public faith with progressive advocacy.
In addition to Pastor Francois, the program includes dance and choral performances from local youth, and readings from interfaith leaders.
This year marks the return of the Volunteer Fair in the CHS cafeteria immediately following the Observance. Visitors will have a chance to meet many SOMA nonprofits and service organizations to learn how they can get involved with local causes of interest. There are so many ways to volunteer--come learn about all the opportunities! Organizations interested in hosting an information table should click here for more information.
As always, the community is invited to participate in the Luminary Project—an uplifting and inspirational close to this important day. Luminary kits will be available at the Observance and at the following local businesses for a donation:
- The Able Baker
- A Paper Hat
- [words] Bookstore
- General Store Cooperative
- Pet Wants
- The Order
- Elitist Coffee
- Oh! Canary
To purchase kits for a large group or your block, send us an email at [email protected].