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Boisi Center for Religion and American Public Life

Backs Against the Wall: The Howard Thurman Story

documentary screening and panel discussion

thurman doc titles

Amey Victoria Adkins-Jones, Boston College
Martin Doblmeier
, filmmaker and president of Journey Films

Date: Thursday, February 7, 2019
Time: 5 - 7pm
Location: Cushing Hall 001 Auditorium

RSVP requested.

Co-sponsored with The Institute for the Liberal Arts.

Backs Against the Wall: The Howard Thurman Story won the regional EMMY Award for best Historical Documentary film in June, 2019.

The documentary Backs Against The Wall: The Howard Thurman Story chronicles the extraordinary life of theologian Howard Thurman, a poet and “mystic” who used religious expression to help ignite sweeping social change. Thurman was born the grandson of slaves in segregated Daytona, Florida. Despite the circumstances of his upbringing, he went on to become one of the great spiritual and religious pioneers of the 20th century, whose words and influence continue to echo today. His landmark book, Jesus and the Disinherited, was the first to state that Jesus Christ — who was born in poverty as part of a powerless minority — lived a life that spoke directly to black Americans. In his own time, Thurman was a celebrated religious figure with profiles in major magazines such as LOOK, Ebony and others. His efforts at the height of World War II to create the nation’s first interfaith, interracial church stands as a precursor for many contemporary faith communities. And for millions today who consider themselves “spiritual but not religious,” Thurman’s poetry, meditations, sermons and prayers continue to be wildly popular.


Photo of Amey Victoria Adkins-Jones

Amey Victoria Adkins-Jones is an Assistant Professor of Theology and African and Africa Diaspora studies at Boston College. She specializes in Mariology, theological anthropology, and womanist and black feminist thought. She is currently working on a monograph entitled Made Flesh: Mary and the Christian Tradition of Trafficking Sex.

Photo of Martin Doblmeier

Martin Doblmeier is a filmaker who has produced or directed over 30 films, mainly on the topics of religion, faith, and spirtuality. He holds degrees in Broadcast Journalism and Religious Studies, and is the founder and president of Journey Films, a television and film company dedicated to those same topics. Journey Film's has produced films for national broadcast and theatrical release, and recieved numerous awards including six Gabriel Awards and a regional Emmy. His latest work is this film, Backs Against the Wall: The Howard Thurman Story, and his next film, set for release this fall, will focus on the life of Dorothy Day.

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This review of Martin Doblmeier's new documentary, Backs Against the Wall: The Howard Thurman Story, from Religion News Services, declares "Thurman helped King realize that nonviolence was not just a tactic, but a lifestyle." Another RNS article argues that Thurman offers a model for bipartisan cooperation on addressing the plight of the disadvantaged and the marginalized. On February 7, filmmaker Martin Doblmeier will screen his documentary on Thurman and discuss the film alongside BC theologian Amey Victoria Adkins-Jones.