Conference Overview

DAY-OF SCHEDULE COMING SOON

Tri-Faith Initiative and University of Nebraska Omaha’s Religious Studies department are proud to present the third annual Race, Religion, and Social Justice Conference taking place June 5-6th, 2024 on the Tri-Faith Commons in Omaha, NE. With this learning experience, we aim to facilitate the type of cross-cultural, interfaith and interdisciplinary connections that lead to a more resilient community.  

The RRSJ Steering Committee has selected 26 exceptional breakout presentations to enjoy across two days. 

The conference will address intersections between race, religion, and social justice across different sectors of society; we invite multi-sector approaches — nonprofit and civic leaders, diversity, equity, access, and inclusion (DEAI) practitioners, community members, educators, health and mental health practitioners, artists, religious communities, and scholars. This year’s theme is Sustainable Progress. 

Sustainability is about meeting the needs of the present without compromising the ability to meet the needs of the future, whether for ourselves, our communities, our economy or our environment. Social justice work is a marathon, not a sprint; it is important to keep a sustainable pace to move forward and achieve lasting gains.

Sustainable progress, therefore, is about seeking societal change that takes root at a deeper level than victories that can easily be stripped away in the next political tug-of-war. Sustainable progress requires out-of-the-box thinking, genuine dialogue, multimodal approaches, and patience for the long game.

Presentation Disclaimer and Notice of Photography:

Presentations (including booth exhibits) are intended for educational purposes only; views expressed by presenters don’t necessarily reflect the views of anyone else besides those presenters — i.e., statements of fact and opinions expressed are those of the presenters individually and, unless expressly stated to the contrary, are not the opinion or position of Tri-Faith Initiative, its cosponsors, or its committees. Attendees should also note that conference activities will be professionally photographed and may be published in various media, including print, audio and video formats without further notice. 

We strive to host inclusive, accessible events that enable all individuals to engage fully. If you require any accommodations such as an ASL interpreter, please contact Tri-Faith Initiative Mission Advancement Coordinator Megan Griffiths at mgriffiths@trifaith.org with the subject line, “RRSJ Accommodations.” 

Conference Keynotes (A - Z)

REV. TRACI D. BLACKMON is a dynamic leader, preacher, and activist known for her unwavering commitment to justice and equality. As a public theologian, Rev. Blackmon’s voice is featured on many local, national, and international platforms spanning the breadth of the White House to the Carter Center to the Vatican, as well as several documentaries and print publications. Born in Birmingham, Alabama, she grew up in a family deeply rooted in the Civil Rights Movement, which profoundly influenced her perspective on social change. Blackmon’s journey as a pastor began in St. Louis, Missouri, where she served as the senior pastor of Christ the King United Church of Christ. Her ministry is characterized by its intersectionality, addressing issues such as racism, sexism, poverty, and LGBTQ+ rights.

With a fervent dedication to advocating for marginalized communities, Blackmon has become a prominent figure in the fight against systemic injustice. She has been actively involved in various grassroots movements, including protests against police brutality and initiatives promoting environmental justice. She continues to inspire and mobilize individuals across the nation to pursue transformative social action grounded in love and compassion. Traci D. Blackmon’s unwavering courage and impassioned advocacy serve as a beacon of hope for those striving to create a more just and equitable society.

ROBERT P. JONES is the president and founder of Public Religion Research Institute (PRRI). He is the author of The New York Times bestselling book, The Hidden Roots of White Supremacy and the Path to a Shared American Future. Jones writes regularly on politics, culture, and religion for The Atlantic, TIME, Religion News Service, and other outlets. He is frequently featured in major national media, such as CNN, MSNBC, NPR, The New York Times, The Washington Post, and others.

He is also the author of White Too Long: The Legacy of White Supremacy in American Christianity, which won a 2021 American Book Award; and author of The End of White Christian America, which won the 2019 Grawemeyer Award in Religion. Jones writes weekly at https://robertpjones.substack.com, a newsletter for those dedicated to the work of truth-telling, repair, and healing from the legacy of white supremacy in American Christianity. He holds a Ph.D. in religion from Emory University and an M.Div. from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary.

DR. AZZA KARAM is the Founder and Principal of Lead Integrity – a global consultancy firm dedicated to serving the common good, through the leadership, competence and integrity, of women professionals, inspired by their faith. She serves as a member of the Board of Trustees of International Alert, the Temple of Understanding, and the Parliament of World Religions. She is a member of the United Nations’ Secretary General High Level Advisory Board on Multilateralism, and was named one of the top 500 Most Influential Muslims.

Azza served as President and CEO of the Women’s Learning Partnership, Secretary General of the World Conference of Religions for Peace from 2019-2023 (and Director of it’s Women’s Programmes and Middle East Advisor, from 2000-2004). She worked at the United Nations for two decades, where she Coordinated the Arab Human Development Reports, co-founded and Chaired the United Nations Inter-Agency Task Force on Religion – with over 20 UN System bodies – and founded and convened its Multi Faith Advisory Council, as part of the 500+ global NGO database she compiled and coordinated. During her tenure at the United Nations, Azza was a Lead Facilitator for UN system-wide peer to peer “Strategic Learning Exchanges” on ‘Religion, Development and Diplomacy’.

Azza has worked with several intergovernmental and international organisations (the OSCE, the EU, and International IDEA) in sub-Saharan Africa, the Middle East, Europe, and East and Central Asia, where she created and managed global programmes on Women and Politics, as well as Democratisation in the Middle East. She has taught in various universities, including West Point Military Academy and is widely published, and translated, into several languages. Born in Egypt, Azza is also a citizen of the Netherlands and resides in New York.

RABBI JOSEPH TELUSHKIN is a renowned American rabbi, lecturer, and author known for his works on Jewish ethics, literature, and humor. Rabbi Telushkin’s appearance has been provided by the Jewish Federation of Omaha, through their Tapestry: A Celebration of Jewish Learning event. Telushkin has written extensively on various aspects of Judaism and Jewish life, making his work accessible to both Jewish and non-Jewish audiences. Some of his notable books include:

  • Jewish Literacy: The Most Important Things to Know About the Jewish Religion, Its People, and Its History — a guide to Jewish beliefs, practices, history, and culture, providing readers with a thorough understanding of Judaism.
  • Words That Hurt, Words That Heal: How to Choose Words Wisely and Well — an exploration of the power of speech according to Jewish teachings, emphasizing the importance of using language responsibly and compassionately.
  • The Book of Jewish Values: A Day-by-Day Guide to Ethical Living — insights into Jewish ethical teachings and how they can be applied to everyday life situations, providing readers with a practical guide to living ethically.
  • Rebbe: The Life and Teachings of Menachem M. Schneerson, the Most Influential Rabbi in Modern History — a meditation on the life and impact of Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson, the seventh leader of the Chabad-Lubavitch Hasidic movement, who is revered by many as a transformative figure in Jewish history.

Telushkin is also known for his engaging speaking style and has lectured widely on topics related to Judaism, ethics, and interpersonal relationships. He has served as a spiritual leader in various capacities and has long been involved in interfaith dialogue efforts. Through his writing and speaking, Rabbi Joseph Telushkin has made significant contributions to promoting understanding and appreciation of Jewish values and traditions.

Conference Pricing

SCHOLARSHIPS AVAILABLE: Accessibility remains core to this event; if you or a potential attendee you know face financial barriers to attending the third annual Race, Religion and Social Justice Conference, please email rrsj@trifaith.org with the subject line, “RRSJ Scholarship” and Tri-Faith Initiative staff will work with you. We thank our RRSJ patrons for making this support possible!

If you are fortunate enough to have the financial stability to do so comfortably, please consider purchasing a 2024 RRSJ Patron Ticket. Your contribution helps those in our community who may be uplifted by this event but face financial barriers to attending.

RRSJ PATRON TICKET: $300 

By purchasing a patron ticket, you get: 

  • Full access to both days (Wednesday, June 5 and Thursday, June 6) of the 2024 Race, Religion & Social Justice Conference 
  • Post-event recognition for helping cover the ticket cost for a community attendee facing financial barriers (anonymity optional) 

GENERAL ADMISSION TICKET: $150

  • Full access to both days (Wednesday, June 5 and Thursday, June 6) of the 2024 Race, Religion & Social Justice Conference 

DAY 1 PASS: $100

  • Access to only Day 1 (Wednesday, June 5) activities of the 2024 Race, Religion & Social Justice Conference 

DAY 2 PASS: $100

  • Access to only Day 2 (Thursday, June 6) activities of the 2024 Race, Religion & Social Justice Conference 

Questions? Contact the Race, Religion, and Social Justice Conference at RRSJ@trifaith.org.

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