Ann Arbor’s academics, political progressives, and people of faith talk a lot–just not necessarily to each other. That’s why the Reverend Joe Summers of the Episcopal Church of the Incarnation helped organize “Unstuck: Reviving the Movement for Social Justice, Human Dignity, and the Environment” (Events, February 16). Whether it’s gun control, income inequality, or gay marriage, he says, the progressive movement will be “stuck” until interested parties work together, he says.
The conference’s big draw is Cornel West, the controversial Princeton scholar who recently blasted President Obama as “a Rockefeller Republican in blackface.” (Summers has known West since the early 1980s and later studied under him at Yale Divinity School.) Another high-profile speaker, the Reverend James Forbes, formerly ministered at the influential Riverside Church in New York City. Local luminaries include attorney Deb LaBelle and affirmative action expert Pat Gurin.
Summers says the conference is also a thank-you to his church, which he’s served for twenty-five years. A U-M academic advisor before he became a full-time priest, Summers, fifty-seven, says, “Part of my own journey was a journey in leftist politics, and part of it was a journey in the church. I see the left being stuck and I see ways religious communities are stuck.” If “Unstuck” is a success, he’ll organize similar gatherings.