Catharine Cookson Lecture
How Shall We Remember?
Changing Narratives around Early Virginia History, Slavery, and the Confederacy
What do we remember from the past? What do we choose as a society to forget? In recent decades, museum collections and interpretations reflect that American history and culture have been undergoing considerable transformation. Lessons that were learned a generation ago have been challenged by new or expanded narratives that include the voices and experiences of previously marginalized people. Christy Coleman discusses questions on the presentation of Jamestown and early Virginia history, on the display of Civil War symbols in public spaces, and on issues of historical memory. Christy Coleman currently serves as the Executive Director of the Jamestown-Yorktown Foundation. She also has served as CEO of the American Civil War Museum in Richmond Virginia, where she was instrumental in furthering discussion on the Civil War, its legacies, and its relevance to our lives today.
'Unity Flag' Traveling Exhibit
Neil Britton Art Gallery (January – March, 2021)
The Unity Flag Project was initiated by Dr. Meaghan Brady Nelson, Assistant Professor of Art Education and Program Director of Fine Arts at Belmont University, in anticipation of the final presidential debate held at Belmont on October 22, 2020. She took the blue and red polarization of the current political climate and used the visual arts to bring them together to foster “purple empathy.” The project was designed to encourage civil discourse, build empathy, and bridge political divides through the visual arts by inviting artists from across the country to create representations of the U.S. flag that expressed empathy for bipartisanship.
The Robert Nusbaum Center was selected to create the Unity Flag for Virginia. “A Beacon of Hope” was one of the 30 state flags displayed during the October 2020 debate and features a lighthouse and heart images as symbols of welcome and hope, and to serve as a reminder to remain vigilant in uniting around a vision for a more perfect union, a union in which equality and justice for all rings true.
In January 2021, the Neil Britton Gallery at Virginia Wesleyan welcomed The Unity Flag Project nationwide traveling exhibit.
'Good Trouble' Exhibit
Neil Britton Art Gallery (October – December, 2020)
Overwhelmed by today’s political climate and accompanying pessimism, journalist and illustrator Christopher Noxon found encouragement on a visit to the National Civil Rights Museum in Memphis. He left inspired and determined to learn the deeper lessons of the movement, resulting in his latest book, Good Trouble: Lessons from the Civil Rights Playbook (Abrams, 2018).
Several of Noxon’s illustrations from the book - generously on loan from the United Jewish Federation of Tidewater and the Leon Family Gallery at the Simon Family JCC - were displayed in Virginia Wesleyan University's Neil Britton Art Gallery.
Constitution Day 2020
September 17th is recognized in the United States as Constitution & Citizenship Day to commemorate the formation and signing of the U.S. Constitution on September 17, 1787.In recognition of Constitution & Citizenship Day 2020, the Robert Nusbaum Center offered a series of video vignettes that feature Virginia Wesleyan University students. The vignettes draw attention to major anniversaries of milestone decisions in the United States’ ongoing struggle for civil rights, and remind citizens to remain ever vigilant in efforts to protect and preserve Constitutional rights and freedoms.
150th Anniversary of the 15th Amendment
Landry Moffo ‘22, VWU
100th Anniversary of the 19th Amendment
Jennifer Vega ‘21, VWU
65th Anniversary of the Immigration and Naturalization Act of 1965
Celvin Pelaez-Gonzalez ‘21, VWU
30th Anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act
India Khanna ‘21, VWU
How to Be Less Stupid About Race: Racism and Anti-racism in Our Classrooms and Communities
Dr. Chrystal Fleming, Associate Professor of Sociology and Africana Studies at SUNY Stony Brook
Dr. Chrystal Fleming gave the 2018 Justine L. Nusbaum lecture at Virginia Wesleyan. She illustrated why Americans of all ethnicities are ignorant about race. She highlighted how institutions and patterns of thinking systemically reinforce racial ignorance on all sides of issues, and showed how – if we are to be less “stupid” about race – we need to take concrete steps toward deeper understanding. Her book - How to Be Less Stupid About Race: The Essential Guide to Confronting White Supremacy (Beacon Press, 2018) – combines rigorous engagement with interdisciplinary research, no-holds barred social commentary, memoir, and humor to debunk common misconceptions about racism.
When God Isn’t Green: A Worldwide Journey to Places where Religious Practice and Environmentalism Collide
Jay Wexler, Professor at the Boston University School of Law
Law professor and humorist Jay Wexler writes that, “In New York, Miami, and other large U.S. Cities, Santeria followers sprinkle mercury in their apartments to fend off witches, poisoning those homes for years to come. In Central America, palm frond sales to U.S. customers for Palm Sunday celebrations have helped decimate the rain forests of Guatemala and southern Mexico. In Israel, on Lag B’omer, a holiday commemorating a famous rabbi, Jews make so many bonfires that the smoke can be seen from space, and trips to the emergency room for asthma and other pulmonary conditions spike. Jay Wexler spoke at Virginia Wesleyan in February 2018, and discussed “Can religious practice and environmentalism coexist?”
They Say We Are Infidels: On the Run from ISIS with Persecuted Christians in the Middle East
Mindy Belz, Senior Editor of WORLD magazine
From Syria into Iraq, Christians are being brutalized and killed by Islamic State fighters (ISIS). Journalist Mindy Belz has spent more than a decade reporting from the ground in the Middle East. Belz spoke at Virginia Wesleyan and explored the complex dynamic at play in war-torn Iraq and Syria and shared stories of Christians who refused to abandon their faith – even in the face of losing everything, including their lives.
Escape from North Korea: Asia’s Underground Railroad
Melanie Kirkpatrick, Senior Fellow at the Hudson Institute in Washington, DC
It is a crime to leave North Korea. Yet every year a small number of desperate North Koreans escape their closed country by traveling along a secret route known as the New Underground Railroad. Journalist-author Melanie Kirkpatrick, the 2017 Catharine Cookson Lecturer, described the perilous journey of the North Koreans and the rescuers--many of whom are Christian--who help them reach free countries.