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Catherine Meeks, Ph.D. | Desolation, Invention and Bearing Witness to Hope

  • 301 Johnson Ferry Rd. NW Sandy Springs, GA 30328 (map)

My extensive years of working with marginalized people have led me to think very deeply about the dynamics that are involved in their ways of being in the world. The primary question that I have asked many times is, “What is it that makes one capable of embracing desolation in a manner that bears witness to hope and leads to invention?”

This lecture and discussion will focus upon the lives of three women who demonstrated the process of embracing great desolation and finding ways to be inventive both in their personal and public lives. They are Ida B. Wells, Mary McCleod Bethune and Malissa Jackson Meeks. Wells and Bethune lived in the late 19th Century and the early 20th and Meeks lived in the 20th Century.

Though none of them had any knowledge of archetypal ways of viewing the world, they were able to be engaged by powerful threads of archetypal energy and they found a way to integrate it into the lives that unfolded before them. The result of their openness led each of them to leave a clear legacy for others to follow. Wells, fought for the liberation of women and helped to forge the anti-lynching work that was done in America, Bethune founded a school which remains to the present day and Meeks taught hundreds of students how to be resourceful and to live creatively regardless of scarcity.

They speak loudly and clearly to us in the 21st Century as we confront the perils of our modern day about the necessity to embrace desolation and to allow space for invention while bearing witness to hope.


Catherine Meeks, Ph.D., is the Founding Executive Director of the Absalom Jones Center for Racial Healing as well as the retired Clara Carter Acree Distinguished Professor of Socio-cultural Studies and Sociology from Wesleyan College. Catherine is an author who has published six books including her recently edited book, Living Into God's Dream: Dismantling Racism in America which focuses on racial healing and reconciliation published in 2016. She is a regular contributor to Hospitality which is published monthly by the Open Door Community. She is involved with prison work and faithfully visits a person who was formally on death row. She is committed to working for the abolition of the death penalty, writing and helping to create spaces where transformation and rebirth can occur.


Admission: $20; students: $10