Role of women, civil rights discussed historically

By Shae McPherson
October 5, 2011

Dr. Bettye Collier-Thomas presented “The Nexus: Women, Religion, Race, and Civil Rights” as the 2011 Jolyon Pitt Girard Distinguished Scholar-in-Residence Lecture on Thursday, Sept. 29 in the historic Woodcrest Mansion. Collier-Thomas focused specifically on integration between different races and  the church as well as women’s struggles during the Civil Rights movement. Her new book is an expression of these issues.

Collier-Thomas is a professor of history at Temple University, Distinguished Lecturer for the organization of American Historians and a Public Policy Scholar at the Woodrow Wilson Center for International Scholars in Washington, D.C.

Before entering into these professions, Collier-Thomas earned a doctorate in American history at George Washington University in Washington, D.C. a master’s degree in American history at Atlanta University and a bachelor’s degree in American history at Allen University in Columbia, S.C.

The Jolyon Pitt Girard Scholar-in-Residence was established in honor of Dr. Jolyon P. Girard, who taught history and political science at Cabrini College for over 30 years. The Scholar-in-Residence allows Cabrini to bring historians and scholars to campus who have earned recognition for outstanding scholarship, and who share Girard’s passion for teaching. Collier-Thomas is the author and editor of eight books, including “Jesus, Jobs, and Justice: African American women and Religion,” which was the basis of her lecture.

The Woodcrest Mansion was filled with a wide array of individuals including faculty and staff, alumni, retirees, photographers, students of all majors and the president of Cabrini College, Dr. Marie Angelella George.

Collier-Thomas began her lecture embracing and thanking Cabrini College for having her as a guest. “I am really delighted to be here today, I’ve been here two days and the campus is gorgeous and the faculty, students and staff exude a tremendous sense of community.” Collier-Thomas said.

Collier-Thomas spoke about the Civil Rights movement and the recognition of the role of women in social and political activities. When asked about the distinct separation between races in churches, Collier-Thomas said “bringing change is a long and difficult process.”

Collier-Thomas left the audience with a very inspirational lecture and a memorable event. “I think Dr. Collier-Thomas did a great job advocating individuals joining together to achieve change in the world. She is truly an academics’ academic,” Dr. Shelby Hockenberry, assistant professor of political science, said.

“I thought it was interesting that she spoke about the womens prespective on civil rights and religion,” Melissa Moore, history, American and religion studies  major, said.

“I thought Dr. Collier-Thomas was a very insightful and inspiring speaker,” Jeffrey Young, junior political science major, said. “This was a great opportunity for me and my fellow students to be truly enlightened by someone who has done extraordinary things in their life.”

Dr. Bettye Collier-Thomas speaks to the crowd gathered in the Mansion for her speech to the college community on Thursday, Sept. 29.

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Shae McPherson

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