Marian Miner Cook

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"On Earth As It Is": Martin Luther King, Jr., Ethics, and the Environment in the Age of the Anthropocene

Thu, January 25, 2024
Dinner Program
Corey D. B. Walker

“We are now faced with the fact, my friends, that tomorrow is today. We are confronted with the fierce urgency of now. In this unfolding conundrum of life and history, there is such a thing as being too late. . . . Over the bleached bones and jumbled residues of numerous civilizations are written the pathetic words, ‘Too late.’”

Martin Luther King, Jr.’s bracing words from his 1967 “A Time to Break Silence” speech delivered at the Riverside Church in New York underscore the immediate and urgent need to create a just and sustainable world. Today, we face an existential threat to the very future of humanity as a result of human induced climate change. This existential threat to human life on the planet forces us to confront the necessity for deliberate and committed action to create new forms of sustainable human community. In his lecture, Dr. Walker will call for a broad conception of environmental ethics as a critical and necessary response to our contemporary climate crisis. By revisiting King’s ideal of “beloved community,” he will articulate an ethical framework that supports the urgent call to create a transformed and livable world.

Corey D. B. Walker is Dean of Wake Forest University School of Divinity, Wake Forest Professor of the Humanities, and Inaugural Director of the Program in African American Studies. He is the 2023-2024 Phi Beta Kappa Frank M. Updike Memorial Scholar.

He served as Vice President, Dean, and Professor of Religion and Society at the Samuel DeWitt Proctor School of Theology at Virginia Union University; founding Dean of the College of Arts, Sciences, Business and Education and inaugural John W. and Anna Hodgin Hanes Professor of the Humanities at Winston-Salem State University; and Chair of the department of Africana Studies at Brown University, where he was also a tenured professor and faculty affiliate in the department of American Studies, department of Religious Studies, Center for Latin American and Caribbean Studies, Center for the Study of Race and Ethnicity, and Committee on Science and Technology Studies.

Dean Walker’s research, teaching, and public scholarship spans the areas of American and African American social and religious thought, ethics, and religion and American public life. He is author and editor of several books and has published over sixty articles, essays, and book chapters in a wide variety of scholarly journals and publications. He is currently completing his next book, Disciple of Nonviolence: Wyatt Tee Walker and the Struggle for the Soul of Democracy, to be published by the University of Virginia Press. Dean Walker also served as Book Review Editor and Associate Editor of the Journal of the American Academy of Religion, generally considered the top academic journal in the field.

An ordained American Baptist clergyperson, Dean Walker speaks to congregations and communities across the nation and has appeared on a variety of media outlets in the United States and abroad.

Dr. Walker is the Phi Beta Kappa Visiting Scholar and will deliver the 2024 Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Commemorative Lecture.

Marian Miner Cook Athenaeum

Claremont McKenna College
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