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Boisi Center for Religion and American Public Life

The Challenge of Charlottesville: Race, Religion and Public Monuments

panel discussion

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panel discussion

M. Shawn Copeland, Boston College
Patricia DeLeeuw, Boston College
Craig A. Ford Jr.,  Boston College
Heather Cox Richardson, Boston College
Martin Summers, Boston College

Moderated by Mark Massa, S.J.

Date: Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Time: 6:30pm
Location: McGuinn 121

Co-sponsored with the Boston College History Department, the Boston College Theology Department and the African and African Diaspora Studies Program.


This panel will aim to articulate a post-Charlottesville understanding of the role of public monuments; to discuss the historical, religious, societal, and racial significance of public monuments in America; and to stimulate a conversation about the responsibility of civil authorities to regulate the accuracy of historical narratives as recounted through public monuments.

Prof. M. Shawn Copeland

M. Shawn Copeland is professor of systematic theology at Boston College. She has also taught at St. Norbert College, Yale University Divinity School, and Marquette University. Copeland is recognized as one of the most important voices drawing attention to issues related to the religious, cultural, and social experience of African American Catholics. She has written more than 100 articles, reviews, and book chapters on such topics as theological anthropology, suffering, freedom, gender, and race. Recent publications include The Subversive Power of Love: The Vision of Henriette Delille and Enfleshing Freedom: Body, Race and Being; she is also the principal editor of Uncommon Faithfulness: The Black Catholic Experience. Copeland is a former convener of the Black Catholic Theological Symposium (BCTS), an interdisciplinary learned society of Black Catholic scholars; and a former president of the Catholic Theological Society of America (CTSA). She received her Ph.D. in systematic theology from Boston College.  

Pat DeLeeuw

Patricia DeLeeuw began her career at Boston College in 1979 as an instructor in the Theology Department. At Boston College and at the Weston School of Theology she taught courses on the social and institutional history of Christianity, and she has written on the influence of Gregory the Great in the Middle Ages, early medieval pastoral care, and medieval religious and liturgical art. She has also held appointments as assistant dean of the Morrissey College of Arts and Sciences, associate dean of the Morrissey Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, University harassment counselor, and associate dean of faculties. From 1999 until 2017, DeLeeuw served as vice provost for faculties. She earned a B.A. from the University of Detroit, and holds the Licentiate in Mediaeval Studies from the Pontifical Institute of Mediaeval Studies, and an M.A. and Ph.D. from the University of Toronto. In June 2017, DeLeeuw retired from Boston College, after 37 years of dedicated service. 

Prof. Heather Cox Richardson

Heather Cox Richardson is professor of history at Boston College and teaches nineteenth-century American history at both the undergraduate and the graduate level. Her early work focused on the transformation of political ideology from the Civil War to the presidency of Theodore Roosevelt. It examined issues of race, economics, westward expansion, and the construction of the concept of an American middle class. Her history of the Republican Party, To Make Men Free (2014) examines the fundamental tensions in American politics from the time of the Northwest Ordinance to the present. She is currently working on an intellectual history of American politics and a graphic treatment of the Reconstruction Era.

Prof. Martin Summers

Martin Summers is an associate professor of history and African Diaspora Studies at Boston College, where he regularly teaches courses on gender and sexuality in African American history, medicine and public health in the African diaspora, and the history of masculinity in the U.S. He is currently the director of the African and African Diaspora Studies Program. He has published scholarship on gender and sexuality within the African American community, including a monograph, Manliness and Its Discontents: The Black Middle Class and the Transformation of Masculinity, 1900-1930, which was awarded the American Historical Association-Pacific Coast Branch Book Award in 2005. Summers’ current book project, Madness in the City of Magnificent Intentions: A History of Race and Mental Illness in the Nation’s Capital, is a social and cultural history of medicine which focuses on African American patients at Saint Elizabeths Hospital, a federal mental institution in Washington, D.C., from its founding in 1855 to the 1980s.

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In the News

"Like the Flag, Confederate Monuments Have Been 'Severely Tainted.' NPR's Dwane Brown discusses the entwined pasts of the Confederate flag and Confederate Civil War monuments with University of Georgia history professor James Cobb. On September 26, join the Boisi Center and our distinguished panelists in discussing the future of public monuments in a post-Charlottesville world.