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About the CRSJ

The Center for Racial and Social Justice (CRSJ) is affecting meaningful social change by supporting engagement around civil and human rights, spiritual formation, discernment, and social justice.

The CRSJ also supports the development of healthy
congregations and communities.

Through lectures, workshops, seminars, certificate programs, forums, and advocacy work, the CRSJ supports the development of bold, visionary leadership. The CRSJ creates a robust ecology of students, staff, alumni, community leaders, corporate partners, and private partners to address urgent social issues relates to race and racism, environmental and climate justice, social inequities, health, violence, and broader issues of human difference.

visionary leadership

MEET THE
DIRECTORS

Dr. Johnny Bernard Hill

Co-director
Dean of Shaw University's School of Divinity

Dr. Johnny Bernard Hill serves as Dean of the School of Divinity and Co-Director of the Center for Racial and Social Justice at Shaw University.

Dean Hill is the author of numerous publications, including Prophetic Rage: A Postcolonial Theology of Liberation (Eerdmans, 2014) and The First Black President: Barack Obama, Race, Politics, and the American Dream (Palgrave MacMillan, 2009). As Dean of the School of Divinity, Dean Hill has helped raise over $3 Million Dollars in grants and charitable donations and increased enrollment in the School of Divinity by 35%.

As a fierce advocate for social justice, civil and human rights, Dean Hill
routinely leads students and colleagues in marches, protests and
community engagement. He also encourages critical thought on pressing
issues related to race and human differences today. A graduate of
Morehouse College, Duke Divinity School and Garrett Seminary at
Northwestern University, Dean Hill also serves the community as Senior
Pastor of Gethsemane Missionary Baptist Church, a small rural
congregation in Bunn, North Carolina.

He is the father of two children, Regan and Jonathan Hill.

Dr. Johnny Bernard Hill - Center For Racial and Social Justice
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Dr. Valerie Ann Johnson - Center For Racial an dSocial Justice
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Dr. Valerie Ann Johnson

Co-director
Dean of Arts, Sciences, and Humanities and Professor of Sociology at Shaw University

Dr. Valerie Ann Johnson is the Dean of Arts, Sciences, and Humanities and Professor of Sociology at Shaw University in Raleigh, North Carolina.  She also serves as co-director for the newly established Center for Racial and Social Justice at Shaw U.  Previously, Dr. Johnson was the Mott Distinguished Professor of Women’s Studies and Director of Africana Women’s Studies at Bennett College in Greensboro, North Carolina.

She holds a Ph.D. in Medical Anthropology from the University of California, Berkeley and San Francisco; M.A. in Sociology from Atlanta University (now Clark-Atlanta University); and B.A. in Sociology from Spelman College in Atlanta, Georgia. Dr. Johnson has also completed doula training focused especially on women of color.

Her research conducted in Costa Rica, Zimbabwe, Tanzania, the Seychelles Islands and the US, center on gender, bioethics, disability, the health of women and girls, and environmental justice.  In addition, she has published and given lectures in these research areas. In North Carolina, Dr. Johnson conducts research on both African American foodways, and African Americans attitudes toward and experiences with “nature spaces” with special emphasis on Black women’s garden clubs. Her speaking engagements include this work as well as public commentary on the issue of confederate monuments on public lands. 

Dr. Johnson chairs the North Carolina African American Heritage Commission, serves on the North Carolina Historical Commission, National Register Advisory Committee and is member of the North Carolina Environmental Justice Network (NCEJN), North Carolina League of Conservation Voters (NCLCV) Board of Directors, Scarritt Bennett Center Board of Directors (Nashville, Tennessee), the Ms. Committee of Scholars and an advisor on the Humanities Action Lab’s initiative on climate change, immigration/migration and environmental justice.  Dr. Johnson is also active on the board of directors for both NARAL Pro-Choice NC and Preservation North Carolina, where she has just been elected to serve as Vice-chair and president-elect. She also serves as an advisory member for Scarritt Bennett Center’s Racial Justice Initiative.

Dr. Johnson lives in Oxford, NC with her family.

OUR STORIED PAST

shaw university

Leonard Hall

Leonard Hall housed the first four-year medical school program in the nation. The first class was awarded degrees in 1886 and the first graduates went on to become prominent members of the Raleigh community, developing a strong Black middle class in early 20th century Raleigh.

Ella Baker

Ella Baker was born in 1903 and grew up in North Carolina. Baker graduated as valedictorian from Shaw in 1927, moving to New York City to become an activist. By 1960, Baker was back in Raleigh to help form SNCC, the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, in the wake of the Greensboro Woolworth’s sit-ins. She convinced Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. to help fund the committee and became an integral part of the civil rights movement. Baker connected various leaders across the nation to push for nonviolent protests, channeling the energy of college students.

ella baker - center for social and racial justice
David Forbes - center for social and racial justice

David Forbes

David Forbes was among the first members of SNCC. He joined while a student at Shaw and worked closely with Ella Baker and others to develop their outreach. Forbes was already a front-line organizer, helping transport his peers to attend protests. With the creation of SNCC,
he played a major role in channeling the energy of his fellow students toward nonviolent protest.

SNCC

The Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) was formed April 16, 1960, on the heels of the Woolworth’s lunch counter sit-ins near North Carolina A&T in Greensboro. The student-led, grassroots organization was dedicated to ensuring that people of color had the freedom to exercise their full rights as citizens. Student leaders founded SNCC and civil rights leader Ella Baker helped convene the meeting to bring together young activists and civil rights elders. From its beginnings at Shaw, SNCC developed into a major force in the American civil rights movement.
Rev. Dr. CT Vivian - center for social and racial justice

Rev. Dr. CT Vivian

Rev. Dr. CT Vivian worked closely with Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. as the National Director of Affiliates and the strategist for the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC). His work in the movement bent the course of civil rights in the United States, helping to effect legislative change that protected voting and civil rights. A minister, Vivian joined Shaw University Seminary as the Dean of Divinity in 1972, shaping the next generation of spiritual leaders. While at Shaw, he developed his doctoral work into a national program to train ministers called Seminary Without Walls.

Cleveland Sellers

Cleveland Sellers was a student at Shaw when SNCC was formed. He joined the committee and became a fierce advocate for Black empowerment, leading voter registration drives in the Deep South. He was arrested during a segregation protest in South Carolina which would become known as the Orangeburg Massacre; the South Carolina Highway Patrol shot into the crowd, killing three and injuring many more. Sellers ultimately served seven months on charges intended to stifle the movement. Decades later, he received a pardon from the governor of South Carolina. In his later life, Sellers joined Voorhees College in South Carolina as president. His youngest son, Bakari Sellers, is a Democratic politician and CNN pundit.

cleveland Sellers
Rep Adam Clayton Powell - center for social and racial justice

Representative Adam Clayton Powell, Jr.

Representative Adam Clayon Powell, Jr., was a graduate of the Shaw University Divinity School. He went on to become one of the most powerful Black members of Congress where he represented a New York district. As chairman of the Education and Labor Committee, he helped usher consequential civil rights bills through the House of Representatives.

Shirley Chisholm

In March 1972, Shirley Chisholm, the first Black woman to run for president, visited the Shaw Campus. She spoke to students, faculty and supporters about her bid for the presidency.
Kamala harris - shaw university

Kamala Harris

Nearly 50 years after Chisholm, then-Senator Kamala Harris visited Shaw University while campaigning as Joe Biden’s running mate. She spoke to students on campus outlining the importance of the 2020 election. Harris would go on to become the first Black Vice President. Harris herself is a graduate of another HBCU, Howard University.