North Park University Hosts Inaugural Black Peace in the City Series featured image background
February 28, 2024

North Park University Hosts Inaugural Black Peace in the City Series

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This Black History Month, North Park University’s (NPU) Department of Sociology and Criminal Justice hosted its inaugural Black Peace in the City series in collaboration with the Urban Peace Lab. Each Monday in February, NPU welcomed guest speakers to campus to share how Black people enact peace in Chicago and beyond.

Dr. Peter K. B. St. Jean founded the Urban Peace Lab and peaceology, which he defines as the science and practice of sustainable and profitable peacefulness. At North Park, he serves as professor of sociology, chair of the Department of Sociology and Criminal Justice, associate dean of the Humanities and Social Sciences Division, and interim co-chair of the College of Arts and Sciences.

The series included the following events.

  • “How Black Businesses Succeed”
  • “Family, Immigration, Migration, and Black Success”
  • “From Economy of Violence to Economy of Peace”
  • “Black Peaceology: How Black Folks Succeed with Low Stress and High Joy”

The first event in the series featured guest Michelle Renee Bester, associate director of Black Ensemble Theater. Bester explained the programs and success of Black Ensemble Theater and its impact on creating a more peaceful Chicago.

Benneth Lee and Eric Wilkins joined North Park to share their stories and discuss their work in the event “From Economy of Violence to Economy of Peace.” Lee is cofounder of the National Alliance for the Empowerment of the Formerly Incarcerated, which helps returning citizens with voter registration, résumés, job applications, and other services. Wilkins, who was shot as a young man and left paralyzed, is the founder of Broken Winggz Foundation, a nonprofit that assists survivors of gun violence and helps create safer communities in Chicago and beyond.

For the final event, NPU welcomed the Bernard Crump and Friends band, who performed Chicago blues, rhythm and blues, and jazz. Dr. Loretta Hall-Martin, a retired educator and current dance instructor, also joined the event to introduce the North Park community to the history of Chicago step dancing and provide stepping lessons to the live music.

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