March 11, 2015
WASHINGTON, DC — Ecumenical Advocacy Days for Global Peace with Justice (EAD) is pleased to announce that Ferguson, MO area pastor and religious leader, Rev. Traci deVon Blackmon, will serve as the opening keynote preacher/speaker for EAD’s 2015 National Gathering on April 17, 2015, at 7:00 pm. EAD’s 2015 theme is titled, “Breaking the Chains: Mass Incarceration & Systems of Exploitation.” The gathering is being held at the Crystal City DoubleTree Hotel in Arlington, VA – just across the Potomac River from Washington, DC.
A nationally recognized preacher and speaker, Rev. Blackmon is a pastor ordained in the African Methodist Episcopal Church and the United Church of Christ, a licensed registered nurse, and a mother of three. She currently serves as the 18th installed and first woman pastor in the 156-year history of Christ the King United Church of Christ in Florissant, MO (also in St. Louis metro area).
Rev. Blackmon has been ministering on the frontline of the Ferguson demonstrations since the beginning, helping the families and friends of those who have been affected by the events in both Ferguson and St. Louis.She took time from her daily work to devote her attention to demonstrations and activities sparked from the fatal police shooting of Michael Brown.
Pastor Traci, as she is often affectionately called, has served the movement as chaplain, community organizer, mediator, teacher and protester – continually maintaining a strong and public commitment to her faith and nonviolence. She has organized community gatherings at Christ the King UCC that have included Gov. Jay Nixon, U.S. Senator Claire McCaskill, Ferguson police, news media and other community leaders and residents. Over the past few months, she has also coordinated and invited religious leaders from around the country to organizing, advocacy and non-violent protest trainings at her congregation.
“EAD is honored and quite fortunate to welcome Rev. Blackmon to the pulpit at our Opening Celebration,” said Douglas Grace, Director of EAD. “Mass incarceration and systems of exploitation are hardly issues to celebrate, but what Pastor Traci will inspire is a deep passion for a faithful, active and moving public witness for justice while helping EAD participants to unpack this year’s theme based on Lamentations 3:34-36 and Acts 16:16-40.”
Rev. Blackmon’s early and prominent response to racial tensions in the aftermath of the killing of Michael Brown earned her an appointment to the Ferguson Commission. She is also the recipient of numerous awards including The President’s Volunteer Service Award from the White House, St. Louis University Community Leader of the Year, Drum Major Award from The Coalition of Black Trade Unionist, NAACP St. Louis County Rosa Parks Award, and several others from local organizations.
“Everybody that is trying to move this [Ferguson], we need to all be working together,” Blackmon has said. “I think we are all working in the same direction, but we are not always working together in terms of being wise about our utilization of resources, both human and physical resources, so that we can endure for the long-term.”
Grace concluded, “I look forward to Rev. Blackmon’s proclamation of the Word that teaches us to face the reality of mass incarceration and corporate exploitation, and motivates the church to call for national policies that brings liberation to both the prisoner and to a world in need of restoration.”
Read more of Rev. Traci Blackmon’s biography here.