Dr. Leah Gunning Francis: Silence, Ferguson, and Faith (Part Two)

In this episode we conclude our conversation with Dr. Leah Gunning Francis, the Vice President for Academic Affairs and Dean of the Faculty at Christian Theological Seminary in Indianapolis, Indiana.

This is part two of a two-part episode. Click here to listen to part one.

During the Ferguson uprising in 2014, Dr. Gunning Francis was serving as the Associate Dean for Contextual Education and Assistant Professor of Christian Education at Eden Theological Seminary in St. Louis, Missouri. As a result, Dr. Gunning Francis wrote the book Ferguson & Faith: Sparking Leadership and Awakening Community. In the book, She interviewed more than two dozen clergy and young activists who were actively involved in the movement for racial justice in Ferguson and beyond.

Dr. Gunning Francis earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Marketing from Hampton University; a Master of Divinity degree from the Candler School of Theology; and a Doctor of Philosophy degree from Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary.

White supremacy has disembodied the white body… White supremacy has disembodied and disconnected white people from the very bodies they inhabit. — Dr. Leah Gunning Francis

A native of New Jersey, Dr. Gunning Francis is married to Rev. Rodney Francis and they live in Indianapolis with their tween-aged children.

In the end of her book, she writes a message as relevant today as it was during her book’s release in 2015: “The fight for racial justice emerges out of the fight for human dignity. If there is any group of people who should be compelled to join this fight, it is the people who call themselves, “children of God.” Staying awake to the injustices that have been revealed through the Ferguson-related events is a critical task for communities fo faith. Our connectedness to our brothers and sisters is rooted in our connectedness to God, for we are all God’s children. And, in the words of the Civil Rights freedom fighter Ella Baker: “Until the killing of black men, black mothers’ sons, becomes as important to the rest of the country as the killing of a white mother’s son—we who believe in freedom cannot rest until this happens.”

Learn more about Dr. Gunning Francis by visiting www.leahgunningfrancis.com.

This isn’t the time to retreat into silence… This is the very time where you as a well-meaning individual need to look right in your circle of influence and start broaching what can be seen as difficult conversations, to say we can’t keep pretending that black people are valued in this county in the same way as white people. We have to look around and see how we can influence the change, right where we are, in our neighborhoods, in our churches, faith communities, schools, mom’s groups, all these various kinds of spaces need to hear a voice for black lives. — Dr. Leah Gunning Francis

Some of the resources and authors we mention in this episode:

When you teach your children not to see color, you teach them not to see me or anybody else. — Dr. Leah Gunning Francis

Episode 109: Silence, Ferguson, and Faith (Part One): A Conversation with Dr. Leah Gunning Francis (Part Two)
Hosted by: Cassidy Hall
With: Carl McColman and Kevin Johnson
Guest: Dr. Leah Gunning Francis
Date Recorded: July 28, 2020

Take a second to support the Encountering Silence Podcast on Patreon!
Carl McColman
Author of Befriending Silence, The Big Book of Christian Mysticism, Answering the Contemplative Call, and other books. Retreat leader. Speaker. Professed Lay Cistercian.