On Monday, March 2, 2015, members of the public joined students, staff and faculty to hear retired Rochester City Police Chief James L. Sheppard discuss police policy, procedures and training in reference to the shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, MO. and recent controversial minority altercations with police.

In a student-inspired Question-and-Answer forum, Mr. Sheppard talked about assessing and handling potentially dangerous situations as well as the challenges police officers and citizens face.

To view news coverage of this forum, please click here:






On Thursday, March 5, 2015, Evan Dawson, host of WXXI's "Connections," a local NPR talk show, interviewed three prominent leaders including CRCDS President Dr. Marvin A. McMickle, who discussed racial bias and police and court procedures following the Department of Justice's Report on Ferguson, released one day earlier.

Mark Concordia, Director of the Criminal Justice Program at Roberts Wesleyan College and Marvin Stepherson, retired Rochester city police officer and Roberts Wesleyan professor joined Dr. McMickle for an in-depth, hour-long discussion.

To listen to the audio from that broadcast, click here:


Following is a letter of support written by Dr. Marvin A. McMickle, President of CRCDS, in support Dr. Forest E. Harris, President of American Baptist College, regarding a controversy on same-sex marriage, homosexuality and clergy discourse:
Dear President Harris:

I write you first of all to express my delight at the opportunity to come to American Baptist College in May to serve as your commencement speaker. My appearance there will serve to further strengthen the relationship between American Baptist College and Colgate Rochester Crozer Divinity School. We are honored to currently have five (5) ABC alumni in our student body here at CRCDS. They are all doing exceedingly well, and they will all make a great contribution to the church and to the world. The only question that remains going forward is whether you or I will take credit for their success!

Sadly, I have reviewed the other correspondence you sent along as an attachment regarding Bishop Yvette Flunder and the broader issue of same-sex marriage and homosexuality. There are several things that puzzle me about that correspondence. First, who has authorized these pastors to speak so broadly about Baptist doctrine and biblical faith? Given our historic attachment to local church autonomy and our repudiation of doctrine being set by any judicatory or external sources, I wonder about their biblical and theological standing. They are clearly not speaking in the name of NBCUSA, Inc., even though they are trying to force the convention to take a stand on this issue. Are there within their number noted biblical and theological scholars who are informing them on their views on this issue that engages our nation and our world, or are these views drawn from whatever adequate or limited theological training they may have? Who are they to set deadlines, make demands, give instruction to the president of a national denomination and the president of a college? The letter wreaks of self-importance and narrow mindedness. What, exactly do they think will happen if neither you or President Young were to comply with their demands? They no doubt view themselves as being prophetic. They will continue to think so unless and until their views are met with a forceful response.

Second, why are they so enraged by same-sex marriage and homosexuality, but apparently not equally concerned about adultery, fornication, and divorce; all of which are spoken against in the Bible and all of which are currently occurring in black Baptist churches and black Baptist pulpits? This selective reading and enforcement of biblical teachings is infuriating to me. People are quick to condemn the practices of which they may not be guilty, but slow to speak up about the practices in which they are complicit. I am reminded of one of our AME brothers who publicly condemned President Obama for embracing the idea of same-sex marriage, while this same pastor was known to have had illicit relations with multiple women in his congregation. If the issue is about sin, then let him or her without sin cast the first stone. Of course, as we see in Romans 1, sin is not limited to sexual conduct. It also includes such things as "strife, malice and gossip," things in which the writers and signatories of this letter are doing.

Third, this correspondence presumes an answer to the question of whether homosexual conduct is behavioral or biological; by choice or by nature. The answer to that question informs us as to whether or not we should even speak of homosexuality as a sin. Even if some people choose to invoke the term sin because of their religious convictions, they need to be reminded that the behavior they find objectionable in Bishop Flunder is legal in most states and is a protected status under federal law. This was the trap that Dr. Ben Carson fell into earlier this week with his observations about homosexuality. Of course, he recanted on those views later the same day. We are fearfully and wonderfully made, and we do not yet know the degree to which sexual orientation is simply a matter of "how we have been made." Either way, is the demand to disinvite a speaker solely because she is in a legal same-sex marriage consistent with the mission of higher education? It is our task to broaden the horizons of ours students and encourage them to hear from persons different from themselves in one way or another, and having done so to make up their mind about what they have heard. If we were to take the approach set forth in their letter when it comes to inviting speakers and lecturers to appear before our students, our invitation lists would be both short and full of narrow-minded and/or same-minded persons. That is not the mission of higher education! Colleges and seminaries are not churches where the task may be to teach and maintain doctrine. We are places of higher learning where we prepare people to live in and understand the world around them. That is never accomplished by shutting out the voices that some handful of angry people do not want to hear. Shame on us for allowing homosexuality to be, in the words of the late Peter Gomes, "the last allowable prejudice.

Finally, I do believe that there will need to be a time and place where this issue is finally laid bare, discussed and debated, and where ignorance and bigotry will eventually be defeated by good exegesis and genuinely Christian spirits. Given the history of Nashville in the civil rights struggles of the 20th century, you may be the ideal setting to lead a vigorous discussion of what is clearly the civil rights struggle of the 21st century. This may not be a struggle that you want to have, but thinking about the Book of Esther, who knows but that you and ABC have come into the kingdom for such a time as this! Know without a doubt that I and CRCDS will do whatever you ask of us in supporting you during this time when you are being assailed "solely because" you are standing up for civil and human rights, and "solely because" you are carrying out your mission as the president of an institution of higher education.

With every good wish, I remain your brother in Christ,

Marvin A. McMickle, President

Colgate Rochester Crozer Divinity School


Reading "Black Prophetic Fire" by Cornel West and Christa Buschendorf I was reminded of the Greek word "parrhesia" which is pronounced par-he-see-ah. It means the pattern of speaking the truth boldly and freely without any regard for the speaker's safety or security. West reminds us that parrhesia was a style of speaking used by Socrates in Plato's Apology.

Of even more importance for me is that the same word appears throughout the Book of Acts in the New Testament regarding the bold preaching of Peter, James, and Paul who preached about Christ in the Greco-Roman world without fear or hesitation. With that word in mind, I think it is well past time for people in this country to find the courage for some "parrhesia"on our part. In the face of poverty, violent crime, racism, student conduct in downtown Rochester, and an unending stream of attacks on voting rights that could affect millions of Americans it is time for some "parrhesia."

We need some "parrhesia" whether it comes from clergy of all races and religions, from public officials that are entrusted with safeguarding the common good, journalists and writers that report what they see occurring in our society, or educators whose values need to extend beyond the safe confines of their classrooms. Not much will change in our society and in our world if people of influence are determined to speak only those things that are pleasing and acceptable to everyone and are never willing to put themselves at risk in any way. The people who most transformed this country were quite often those who engaged in "parrhesia." Think about the founders of this country in their attacks on King George III and the British Empire.

Think about abolitionists, suffragettes, civil rights leaders, anti-war activists during the Viet Nam War era, or the Occupy Movement and their attacks on issues of the growing wealth disparity in this country. In every instance, these people engaged in what the ancient Greeks call "parrhesia." They all ran a risk, they faced the possibility of some serious reprisal, and they all understood that nothing will change and no injustice will be ended until people with strong convictions find the courage to go public with their views and values. As Edmund Burke said, "The only thing needed for evil to triumph is for good people to do nothing."

There is something that good people can do; they can practice the art of "parrhesia.

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The Blessing and Burden of Black History Month by Dr. Marvin A. McMickle

We invite you to read and comment on this essay written by Dr. Marvin A. McMickle which was published in the Rochester, NY Democrat and Chronicle's Unite Rochester blog on February 11, 2015:

As a result of the efforts and initiative of the Harvard-trained black historian, Carter G. Woodson the month of February is now known as Black History Month. He first called for a special focus on the historical pilgrimage and accomplishments of African Americans back in 1926, and at that time the celebration was limited to just one week. The month of February was selected because it was the birth month of both Abraham Lincoln who issued the Emancipation Proclamation and Frederick Douglass who was an escaped slave who worked tirelessly for the abolition of slavery and who also recruited black men to enlist in the Union army and fight for the final eradication of slavery. When done properly, Black History Month does not begin with slavery in this country. Instead it begins with the great African civilizations that thrived in the centuries before Europeans first began trafficking in human lives. It is a time to remember the presence of and contributions of African people in antiquity, including the African presence in the Bible. It is a time to remember that like the Jewish community, there is also an African diaspora that has seen people of African ancestry migrate and populate places all over the world. Black History Month is a time to remember the contributions of African Americans to every aspect of life in this country. The full story about advances in medicine, literature, music, science, athletics, politics, journalism, law, theology, mechanical engineering, and banking cannot be fully told without references the contributions of African Americans. Sadly, we still need Black History Month because so many school districts, text books, and boards of education pay little or no attention to the full story of the African American experience. I invite all citizens of Rochester to know not only about George Washington, but also about George Washington Carver. I invite you to learn not only about Wiliam Shakespeare, but also about Langston Hughes and Paul Lawrence Dunbar and Phyllis Wheatley.

When you think about Babe Ruth don't forget Josh Gibson. When you think about Laurence Olivier think also about Ira Aldrdige and Paul Robeson. Everybody who has gone go see the movie American Sniper should also agree to see Red Tails which is about the Tuskegee Airmen. There are a great many people, black and white who have no awareness of the ways in which their daily lives have been shaped and impacted by the inventions, creations, and contributions of African Americans. There is more to learn than can be taught in one month. Black history should be more intentionally woven into the standard curriculum of every school district in this country. However, until that day comes we will keep looking forward to Black History Month as a way to better understand how this nation and this world have been enriched by the contributions of African Americans; many of those contributions coming in the face of great disadvantage and discrimination. From one end of Greater Rochester to the other, we may more quickly improve race relations if we can first alter racial impressions. The truth about African Americans remains largely untaught and thus unknown. Let's all agree to watch one TV special, attend one stage production, read one recommended text, go to hear one lecture, or ask one elderly black person what changes they have seen in this country during their lifetime. You will be surprised what you discover about this country and ALL the people who helped to build it.

To share or comment on Dr. McMickle's blog online, see: