RIOTcon, the annual Spring conference hosted by Chicago Theological Seminary, is quickly becoming one of the leading events for social justice.

CTS invites activists, students, scholars, religious leaders, artists, and concerned community members to engage in the Raging Issues Of Today (RIOT) conference. Join us for two dynamic days of keynote addresses, panel discussions, and breakout workshops.

You can download the RIOTcon app here to help you fully enjoy the experience.

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The Speakers

The Chicago and National Director for Growing Power, with a small farm agricultural background and experience. She spent her formative years involved in all aspects of farm management from transplanting seedlings to managing farm stands and markets. She received her BFA from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and her MA in art therapy from the University of Illinois at Chicago. Working in urban communities with art education and social service have brought her full circle back to her farming roots. Integrating the creative and therapeutic techniques with food security and community development have enabled her to establish nine urban agriculture and food system projects in Chicago. @erae
Erika Allen
Growing Power, Inc.
Lauren Ash is the Founder and Creative Director of Black Girl In Om, a lifestyle brand that cultivates holistic wellness and inner beauty for women of color through yoga, meditation, and holistic wellness gatherings, in Chicago, New York City, and Washington D.C. The publication has garnered an online monthly readership of more than 20,000, offering a unique, affirming, and in many cases life-changing experience for women of color exploring wellness, self-care, and self-love. @blackgirlinom
Lauren Ash
Black Girl in Om
Reza Aslan is an internationally renowned scholar of religions and writer whose books include, Zealot: The Life and Times of Jesus of Nazareth, and, No god but God: The Origins, Evolution, and Future of Islam. Aslan teaches at the University of California, Riverside. His writing has been published in The New York Times, Slate, The Daily Beast, The Christian Science Monitor and The Washington Post. Aslan appears on TV and radio as a religions and political analyst. He is a Consulting Producer for HBO’s The Leftovers, an Executive Producer for ABC’s Of Kings and Prophets, and host and executive producer for both Ovation TV’s Rough Draft with Reza Aslan, and CNN’s upcoming series, Believer. @rezaaslan
Reza Aslan
University of California, Riverside
Kathy Chaney, an award-winning journalist, is Ebony magazine’s managing editor. Prior to joining Ebony, she was a producer/reporter at Chicago Public Radio, senior executive producer at 1690AM WVON and managing editor at the Chicago Defender. Her work has also appeared in the Chicago Tribune and Hyde Park Herald newspapers, and on Reuters and Agence France-Presse. Kathy has appeared on CNN and Headline News reporting on various missing persons and homicide cases, among other stories. She is a member of the National Association of Black Journalists (currently serving as the president of the local chapter).
Kathy Chaney
Ebony Magazine
Bernardine is an activist, academic, international child rights and women’s advocate, retired Clinical Associate Professor at Northwestern University School of Law, and founding director of the Children and Family Justice Center for 24 years. She is an author/co-editor of three books: “Race Course: Against White Supremacy; “A Century of Juvenile Justice”; “Resisting Zero Tolerance: A Handbook for Parents, Teachers and Students”. Dohrn was a Lecturer at the University of Chicago (where she graduated from the College and Law School) and is visiting professor, Leiden University faculty of law, the Netherlands.
Bernardine Dohrn
Northwestern Univ. School of Law
Dr. Dyson, named by Essence magazine as one of the 40 most inspiring African- Americans - and by Ebony magazine as one of the 100 most influential black Americans - is one of the nation's most renowned public intellectuals. The Philadelphia Weekly contends that Dyson "is reshaping what it means to be a public intellectual by becoming the most visible black academic of his time." In his books, Dyson has taken on some of the toughest and most controversial issues of our day, including Martin Luther King, Jr.'s radical legacy, the virtues and crises of hip-hop culture, and racial conflict and black identity.
Michael Eric Dyson
Georgetown University
Mary Lou Finley received her Ph.D. in Sociology from the University of Chicago and is currently professor emeritus at Antioch University Seattle. She was on Martin Luther King, Jr.'s staff in Chicago in the mid-1960s and is a co-author of Doing Democracy: the MAP Model for Organizing Social Movements and co-editor of The Chicago Freedom Movement: Martin Luther King, Jr. and Civil Rights Activism in the North, to be released April, 2016. She is also a certified Kingian Nonviolence trainer.
Mary Lou Finley
Antioch University Seattle
Specializing in the history, theology and practice of US Protestant worship, Professor Haldeman is also interested in the less formal ways human beings ritualize themselves in relation to various categories of identity, such as race/ethnicity, gender and sexuality. His book, Towards Liturgies of Reconciliation: Race and Rites among African American and European American Protestants (Ashgate Publishing Ltd., 2007), analyzes the role of racism in the development of US Protestant worship.
Dr. Scott Haldeman
Chicago Theological Seminary
President of CTS since 2008 and also a Professor of Hebrew Bible. Her research interests include biblical interpretation and engagement in the public square, historiography and the Bible, Second Temple Studies, critical theological reflection and theological education, and leadership education. Hunt was ordained in the National Baptist Convention and holds dual standing with the UCC. She serves on the Board of Commissioners for the Association of Theological Schools and chairs the Historical Books section for the Society of Biblical Literature's international meeting. She is the author of Missing Priests: The Zadokites in Tradition & History. Hunt has a BA from the University of Montevallo, MTS from Vanderbilt University Divinity School, and MA and PhD from Vanderbilt University. @AliceWHunt
Alice Hunt
Chicago Theological Seminary
Dr. Azeem Ibrahim is an RAI Fellow at Mansfield College, University of Oxford and Research Professor at the Strategic Studies Institute, US Army War College. He completed his PhD from the University of Cambridge and served as an International Security Fellow at the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University and a World Fellow at Yale University. He has advised world leaders on policy development and was ranked as a Top 100 Global Thinker by the European Social Think Tank. @azeemibrahim
Dr. Azeem Ibrahim
University of Oxford
Sherman is an adjunct scholar and a member of the board of advisors at ISPU and the King Faisal Chair in Islamic Thought and Culture and Professor of Religion and American Studies and Ethnicity at the University of Southern California. He is the author of a plethora of books and has written a number of thought-provoking articles. Dr. Jackson is the Co-Founder of the American Learning Institute for Muslims (ALIM), and past president of Shari’ah Scholar Association of North America. He received his Bachelors cum laude, Masters, and Doctorate degrees from the University of Pennsylvania in the Department of Oriental Studies, Islamic Near East.
Dr. Sherman Jackson
University of Southern California
Jamie Kalven is a writer and human rights activist. His work has appeared in a variety of publications; among them, Slate, the Nation, and the Chicago Tribune. In recent years, he has reported extensively on patterns of police abuse and impunity in Chicago. On March 10, 2014, the Illinois Appellate Court ruled in Kalven v. Chicago that documents bearing on allegations of police misconduct are public information. The ruling has been hailed by civil rights lawyers as "historic" and "a watershed." @jamiekalven
Jamie Kalven
Writer, Human Rights Activist
Su’ad Abdul Khabeer is a scholar-artist-activist who uses anthropology and performance to explore the intersections of race, religion and popular culture. She is currently an assistant professor of Anthropology and African American Studies at Purdue University. Her latest work, Muslim Cool: Race, Religion and Hip Hop in the United States (NYU Press 2016), examines how intersecting ideas of Blackness and Muslim identity challenge and reconstitute US racial hierarchies. Committed to public scholarship, Su’ad leads, an online resource for African American Islam, and has written for, the Washington Post and the Huffington Post and has appeared on Al Jazeera English. @drsuad
Su’ad Abdul Khabeer
Purdue University
A long-time political activist with roots in the student, anti-war, Civil Rights and labor movements, Fred Klonsky was a public school teacher for 30 years until retiring in 2012. For ten years, he was President of the Park Ridge Education Association, a local union affiliate of the Illinois Education Association and the National Education Association. Fred is currently active among retired teachers in Illinois in defense of pension rights and opposing the austerity program of Governor Rauner.
Fred Klonsky
Dr. Michael Klonsky teaches in the College of Education at DePaul University. He is the co-founder and director of the Small Schools Workshop and has authored several books and dozens of published articles on issues of social justice and public education. Dr. Klonsky is a veteran of the '60 civil rights and anti-war movements and was the national secretary of Students For a Democratic Society (SDS) 1968-69. @mikeklonsky
Dr. Michael Klonsky
DePaul University
Dr. LaFayette has been a Civil Rights Movement activist, minister, educator, lecturer, and is an authority on the strategy on nonviolent social change. He co-founded the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) in 1960 and was a leader of the Nashville Movement, the Freedom Rides, and the Selma Movement. He directed the Alabama Voter Registration Project in 1962, and was appointed National Program Administrator for the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) and National Coordinator of the 1968 Poor Peoples’ Campaign by Martin Luther King, Jr.
Dr. Bernard LaFayette, Jr.
Emory University
Rachel Laser has a diverse background in policy, advocacy, coalition-building, message development and political strategy, and recently served as the Deputy Director of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism (the RAC), the Reform Jewish Movement's Washington, DC office. Before the RAC, Rachel launched the Come Let Us Reason Together Initiative at Third Way, mobilizing evangelical Christians and progressive activists to work together on divisive social issues. She is a graduate of Harvard University and the University of Chicago Law School. @rachellaser
Rachel Laser
Writer, Speaker, Advocate
As Senior Program Officer at The Chicago Community Trust, Dr. Lewis oversees grant-making in human services, workforce development, criminal justice, human relations, organizational development and policy advocacy. He sits on numerous planning bodies of city, county and state government. He has played principal roles in the development of the university evaluation of the Chicago 10-Year Plan to End Homelessness, Illinois Partners for Human Service, and the Back Office Cooperative.
Dr. James H. Lewis
The Chicago Community Trust
WBEZ education reporter, Linda Lutton covers schools, education and issues affecting youth. Her coverage has examined Chicago’s dropout crisis, race and segregation in schools, school performance, youth violence, the 2012 Chicago Teachers Union strike, and the historic closing of 50 public schools. Her work has been broadcast on This American Life, Re:sound, Marketplace, The World, and NPR’s Morning Edition, All Things Considered, and Weekend Edition. Lutton has been researching Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s stay in Chicago in 1966 for an upcoming radio story. @WBEZeducation
Linda Lutton
African American Leadership and Engagement Specialist at Planned Parenthood Action, BYP100 Author.
Samantha Master
BYP 100
Joy Messinger joined the staff of Third Wave Fund in November 2015 as a Program Officer, bringing with her more than a decade of experience with reproductive justice, health, education, and social service groups, staying committed to centering the experiences of LGBTQ people, young people, people of color, disabled people, and immigrants and adoptees. Joy holds degrees in social work, public health, and nonprofit leadership from the University of North Carolina and the University of Illinois at Chicago. @joydelivery
Joy Messinger
Third Wave Fund
Fawzia Mirza is an actor, writer, producer who believes in dispelling stereotypes across race, gender, sexual orientation and religion using comedy and art as a tool to do. Indiewire named her a “Top 10 Creative”, WBEZ called her a “Rising Star in Indie Filmmaking”, she is a recipient of the Chicago 3 Arts Award in acting and Jezebel said that her satirical mockumentary might be the “sole force…that can bring down Donald Trump”. She's performed all over Chicago theatre, made award-winning web series, short films, documentaries, plays and co-wrote, is producing, and starring in her first feature film "Signature Move" which films in Chicago this summer. @TheFawz
Fawzia Mirza
Actor, Writer, Producer
Natalie Moore is WBEZ's South Side Bureau Reporter, and has been published in Essence, Black Enterprise, the Chicago Reporter, Bitch, In These Times, the Chicago Sun-Times and the Chicago Tribune. She is the author of The South Side: A Portrait of Chicago and American Segregation (March 2016, St. Martin’s Press) and the co-author of the book Deconstructing Tyrone: A New Look at Black Masculinity in the Hip-Hop Generation and The Almighty Black P Stone Nation: The Rise, Fall and Resurgence of an American Gang. @natalieymoore
Natalie Moore
Zakkiyyah Najeebah is the Art Director for Black Girl In Om, which cultivates holistic wellness, inner beauty, and self empowerment for women of color. Among other creative practices, She is a photographic artist, documentarian, content curator, independent brand consultant, and independent film artist. Zakkiyyah holds a background in art history and black cultural studies, which heavily influences her urgent intentions on creating and facilitating work to engage folks of color to preserve their own stories and lived experiences. @visualideologie
Zakkiyyah Najeebah
Black Girl in Om
Professor Nashashibi is a community organizer and American Muslim activist who co-founded and continues to serve as the Executive Director of the Inner-City Muslim Action Network (IMAN.) His primary research and teaching emphasis has been on exploring the intersection of urban space, globalization, race and popular culture in the formation of modern Muslim identities. As both an organizer and academic, he takes special interest in the relationship between new forms of religious identity, community organizing and alternative expressions of interreligious solidarity and cooperation. @RamiNashashibi
Dr. Rami Nashashibi
Chicago Theological Seminary
A teacher and lecturer for 40 years throughout Chicago, he currently teaches African History at Columbia College in Chicago, and is involved with teacher training nationally through Eastern Educational Collaborative, based D.C. Besides his Chicago-based work, Prexy travels the USA speaking on racism, war and militarism issues, especially in relationship to Africa. He has done various jobs in Eastern and Southern Africa ranging from education to foreign policy to trade union work since the mid 1960’s. He also organizes cultural/political tours to Africa through an organization he and others founded called MAKING THE ROAD. @prexynesbitt
Prexy Nesbitt
Columbia College
Ladan Osman is an artist and educator whose work is a lyric and exegetic response to problems of race, gender, displacement, and colonialism. Her chapbook, Ordinary Heaven, appears in Seven New Generation African Poets (2014). Her first book, The Kitchen-Dweller’s Testimony (2015), is the winner of the Sillerman Prize. Her writing appears in a variety of journals. Osman is a contributing editor at The Offing and lives in Chicago. @osmanladan
Ladan Osman
African Poetry Book Fund
Jim Ralph is the Rehnquist Professor of American History & Culture at Middlebury College, Vermont specializing in American History, particularly the Civil Rights Movement. Jim is the Dean for Faculty Development & Research and author of Northern Protest: Martin Luther King, Jr., Chicago, and the Civil Rights Movement (1993). He has just completed a co-edited volume on the Chicago Freedom Movement.
James Ralph
Middlebury College
Assistant Professor of Theological Ethics and Society at Chicago Theological Seminary. Professor Ringer's research interests include theological and social ethics, African American religion, public theology, religion and social sciences, religion and politics, critical theory and African American religion, and cultural studies. He is particularly interested in African American religion as a site for understanding the relationship of self, society and the sacred as it concerns human flourishing. Ringer's research currently focuses on the religious and cultural meanings that sustain and rationalize mass incarceration and other forms of social death in American public life. @ringercd
Christophe Ringer
Chicago Theological Seminary
Anna Levin Rosen serves as the Rabbi and Director of Jewish Student Life at UChicago Hillel. With a passion for Jewish life and social justice, Anna has served as a guest educator for many Chicago organizations. She received her Rabbinical Degree from Hebrew Union College- Jewish Institute of Religion.
Rabbi Anna Levin Rosen
UChicago Hillel
Zoe Samudzi is a queer black woman whose work is dedicated to reclaiming and reframing narratives both within the academy – both in present research work at UC San Francisco and upcoming medical sociology PhD work – and outside of it. Wielding black feminist & womanist epistemologies, she uses Twitter as a site of public discourse, interrogates structural whiteness as it affects the health outcomes transgender women of color in the Bay Area, and theorizes on decolonizing ways of knowing and truth-telling. @ztsamudzi
Zoe Samudzi
University of California, San Francisco
Linda is a Palestinian-Muslim-American racial justice & civil rights activist born and raised in Brooklyn. She is the Executive Director of the Arab American Association of NY and co-founder of the first Muslim online organizing platform, MPower Change. Linda's areas of focus are criminal justice and national security reform, immigrant rights and combatting islamophobia. Linda was named one of the 500 most influential Muslims in the world. The New York Times dubbed her “Brooklyn Homegirl in a Hijab” and introduced her to their readership as “ Mixing street smarts, activism and her Muslim identity, Linda Sarsour has become a political force”. @lsarsour
Linda Sarsour
MPower Change
A coordinator of the Chicago Kingian Nonviolence Training Institute that is in formation and a Kingian Nonviolence trainer. She is a historian and long-time Chicago consultant. Pam’s team conducted the feasibility study that set the stage for the Chicago Freedom School. She has worked with many youth and nonprofit groups in the city and served as a top press aide to Jesse Jackson in his 1988 presidential bid and to Barack Obama in his primary campaign for US Senate. She is coeditor of The Chicago Freedom Movement: Martin Luther King Jr. and Civil Rights Activism in the North.
Pam Smith
Rabbi Susan Talve is the founding rabbi of Central Reform Congregation. When other congregations were leaving the city for the suburbs, Rabbi Talve joined with a small group to keep a vibrant presence in the city to be on the front line of fighting the racism and poverty plaguing the urban center. Today she performs life cycle events, leads worship services for the 750+ households that comprise the congregation, and is actively involved in the teaching of young and adult members. She also teaches courses on Jewish life and thought in both the Jewish and non-Jewish communities.
Rabbi Susan Talve
Central Reform Congregation
JoAnne Marie Terrell is Associate Professor of Theology, Ethics & the Arts at Chicago Theological Seminary. Terrell is an ordained elder in the Michigan Annual Conference of the African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church. Her current research interests are interreligious in scope, and focus on soteriological principles in Taoism, Buddhism and Christianity, the genre of spiritual autobiography, and the power of the visual and performing arts to effect personal, social, and cosmic transformation.
Joanne Marie Terrell
Chicago Theological Seminary
A 2015 James Beard Foundation Leadership Award-winning chef, educator, and author and currently Chef-in- Residence at the Museum of the African Diaspora where he creates programming that celebrates the intersection of food, farming, health, activism, art, culture, and the African Diaspora. Bryant’s book, Afro Vegan: Farm-Fresh African, Caribbean & Southern Flavors Remixed was named one of the best cookbooks of by Amazon. In 2012, Bryant was chosen to be a part of the American Chef Corps. He graduated from the Chef’s Training Program at the Natural Gourmet Institute for Health and Culinary Arts and holds an M.A. in History. @BryantTerry
Bryant Terry
Museum of the African Diaspora
The Reverend Susan Brooks Thistlethwaite, Ph.D is Professor of Theology at CTS. She was President of the seminary from 1998-2008. Upon completing two five-year terms as President, she returned to full-time teaching on the seminary faculty. She has a Ph.D. from Duke University, a Masters of Divinity (Summa Cum Laude) from Duke Divinity School and a B.A. from Smith College. An ordained minister of the United Church of Christ since 1974, she is the author or editor of numerous books and has been a translator for two different translations of the Bible.
Susan Thisthlethwaite
Chicago Theological Seminary
Anisia Uzeyman was born in Rwanda, where she spent her first seven years before moving to Belgium. At age 17, she entered the National Conservatory of Liege, prior to studying drama at the Superior School of Theater in France and later co-founding "La Generale," one of the largest artist collectives of Paris. Anisia has written and directed four plays, acted in award winning films, and most recently directed her first feature film, Dreamstates. She lives between Paris and Los Angeles. @dreamstatesmeta
Anisia Uzeyman
Norman Williams has engaged with Chicago communities for decades, serving as the chair of the Chicago Theological Seminary Board of Trustees, Chairman CEO of Illinois Service Federal Savings & Loan Association, and President of Unity Funeral Parlors, Inc. His strong relationship with CTS continues to this day. Williams received his Bachelor of Arts in Black Studies from Amherst College.
Norman Williams
Chicago Theological Seminary
Poet/Musican Saul Williams has performed in over 30 countries and read in over 300 universities, with invitations that have spanned from the White House, the Sydney Opera House, Lincoln Center, The Louvre, The Getty Center, Queen Elizabeth Hall, to countless, villages, townships, community centers, and prisons across the world. The Newburgh, New York native gained a BA from Morehouse and an MFA from Tisch, and has gone on to record with Nine Inch Nails and Allen Ginsburg, among many more. @SaulWilliams
Saul Williams
Martyr Loser King
A pastor, philanthropist and activist pursuing God's vision of community marked by justice, peace and love. He is president & CEO of Deaconess Foundation and pastor of St. John's Church. He has led congregational activism on myriad issues, including youth violence prevention, Medicaid expansion, public school accreditation, voter mobilization, capping payday lending and raising the minimum wage. The Missouri Governor appointed him co-chair of the Ferguson Commission, to study the underlying conditions and make public policy recommendations to help progress through issues exposed by the death of Michael Brown, Jr. @revstarsky
Rev. Starsky Wilson
Deaconess Foundation
Angel Ysaguirre is the Executive Director of Illinois Humanities. From 1999-2005, he was the Director of Programs, creating programs and series that include The Odyssey Project and Einstein's Revolutions. He was Deputy Commissioner at the Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events from 2012-2014, where he managed the public art program, creative industries offices, and arts programming. @afraidoffun
Angel Ysaguirre
Illinois Humanities


RIOTcon has over a dozen inspiring workshops lead by provocative industry leaders. Each session will help you learn, network and channel your passions.

Fund the Movement

One of the greatest challenges to sustaining political movements is consistent funding. In this workshop, activists Starsky Wilson, Joy Messinger, Jim Lewis (3 pm only), and Angel Ysaguirre share their expertise in funding models for organizational activism. Learn various tactics for economic sustainability including ways of marketing political messages, modes of raising funds, tapping into networks and accessing funding streams.

Riding the Divide: Power, Privilege, and Oppression in an interreligious context

We recognize privilege in the context of race, but what about religion? This session explores social issues through the power-privilege and oppression framework of social justice movements, and an interfaith framework centered on the preserving positive relationships. The students in CTS’s ECOmmunity Cohort will present this workshop.

Beloved Community or Battlefield

As we celebrate 50 years of MLK’s vision of a Beloved Community, we analyze its progress. Yes, faith communities have nurtured radical transformation, but have also reproduced structural violences and inequalities. In this workshop, Rev. Otis Moss, III, Rachel Laser and Rabbi Susan Talve will engage the radical potential of faith communities not only within their own denominations, but as the community interacts and strives to build open and empathetic coalitions with others.

Kingian Nonviolence: Six Steps & Six Principles

Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr established the principles and standards for non-violent protest. This important workshop immerses you in the philosophy, skills and systematic framework critical for solving personal and community problems. Led by certified Kingian trainers, Sherri Bevel, Mary Lou Finley, and Pam Smith, you will become fluent in strategies and methodologies to reduce violence and promote positive peace.

Rare Audio: Hearing King in Chicago

RARE AUDIO: HEARING KING IN CHICAGO While Chicago was an important chapter in Dr. King’s life, we rarely see any video footage or hear audio from King’s time here. WBEZ reporter Linda Lutton has been researching King’s stay in North Lawndale, where he lived for much of 1966 in his campaign to “end the slums.” It was in Chicago that King sharpened his call to end poverty and economic inequality. Join Lutton and Jim Ralph, Rehnquist Professor of American History and Culture at Middlebury College, to hear and discuss excerpts of rarely heard audio unearthed from Dr. King’s stay in Chicago. Ralph is an expert on King’s Chicago period and the author of Northern Protest: Martin Luther King, Jr., Chicago, and the Civil Rights Movement.

Food Justice is Social Justice

In this interactive workshop/cooking class, food justice activists Erika Allen and Bryant Terry lead a conversation about food politics. They’ll discuss the power of culture to transform the habits, attitudes, and politics of people living in communities most impacted by food insecurity. This culinary workshop will also include hands-on food preparation so participants can enjoy the sensual pleasures of a seasonal dish. Delicious!

Arts as a Tool for Action

Often more powerful than raw theory alone, art can be a critical means of articulating political expression and emotions. Art does not exist in a silo of creativity: it complements and strengthens ideas and understandings. By speaking truth, art can more deeply connect personal visions with political realities. In this workshop, actor and filmmaker Anisia Uzeyman, poet Saul Williams, and writer-poet Ladan Osman will guide attendees through the processes of utilizing art as a tool for catalyzing emotions, galvanizing support and motivating political action.

Message your Movement

Social media has transformed the narratives and impact of contemporary social justice movements. The ability to report has been decentralized; social media users may now act as citizen journalists. Institutions and organizations may construct their own politics and narratives. This workshop led by Natalie Moore, Kathy Chaney and Zoe Samudzi will discuss this era of more horizontal storytelling, and provide tools for individuals, organizations, and institutions alike to shape responses to conflict and crisis.

Fight the Power

In this workshop, Samantha Master and Fawzia Mirza will engage attendees about LGBTQIA organizing and activism. One major core value of the collective is the radical and purposeful inclusion of all young black people, including young queer, transgender, genderqueer, and intersex black people. The workshop will engage these intersectionalities, these exclusions, and the opportunities for deep and meaningful inclusive social justice work in communities.

Frame the Issues: Just Peace

While we’re all familiar with the historic notion of a “Just War,” surprisingly little conceptual thinking has gone into what constitutes a “Just Peace.” Nationally-know academics Dr. Susan Brooks Thistlethwaite, and Dr. Michael Eric Dyson share their experience of teaching together at CTS, the development of the Just Peace paradigm, and how activists can engage with the public square.
Friday, April 15
7:30 am
8:00 am
Ecumenical Service
Dr. JoAnne Marie Terrell
Clark Chapel - First Floor
7:30 am
Registration & Continental Breakfast
Lobby - First Floor & Lounge – Third Floor
(RIOTcon Juice Bar opens on 4th Floor kitchen area and available throughout the conference)
8:50 am
10:20 am
Welcome & Opening Plenary
Dr. Bernard Lafayette Jr. – "The Fierce Urgency of Now: Chicago Freedom 50 Years"
Chapel – Fourth Floor Livestream
10:30 am
11:45 am
Panel - The Movement / Moment
Chapel – Fourth Floor Livestream
12:45 pm
1:15 pm
Jumaa Prayer
Tahir Abdullah
Learning Commmons – Third Floor
1:15 pm
2:30 pm
Afternoon Workshops
(see workshops for locations and info)
2:30 pm
3:00 pm
4:25 pm
Afternoon Workshops
(see workshops for locations and info)
4:45 pm
5:45 pm
Reflection & Lecture
Dr. Sherman Jackson – "Mapping A Movement"
Chapel – Fourth Floor Livestream
Saturday, April 16
7:30 am
8:00 am
Shabbat Morning Service
Rabbi Anna Levin Rosen
Clark Chapel – First Floor
8:40 am
9:00 am
Welcome & Introductions
Norman Williams & Dr. Rami Nashashibi
Chapel – Fourth Floor
9:00 am
10:20 am
Panel - Facing Islam
Race and National Security in the Current
Global/Local Moment
Chapel – Fourth Floors Livestream
10:30 am
11:30 am
Afternoon Workshops
(see workshops for locations and info)
1:00 pm
2:00 pm
Afternoon Workshops
(see workshops for locations and info)
2:15 pm
3:15 pm
Call to Action
Dr. Michael Eric Dyson
Chapel – Fourth Floor Livestream
3:15 pm
Dr. Scott Haldeman
Chapel – Fourth Floor
3:30 pm
Shuttle Departure for Trinity UCC
For those attending The Installation of The Rev. John C. Dorhauer
North Entrance – First Floor

For a detailed map and room locations, you can download our venue map below:

Venue Map

Evening Events

RIOTcon is NOT sold out— our evening events are separate from your conference registration.

Friday, April 15
Stony Island Arts Bank
6760 S. Stony Island Ave.
6:30 pm – 10:00 pm

Saturday, April 16
The Revival
1160 E. 55th Street
8:30 pm – Midnight(With added special guest, Koku Gonza)

RIOTcon 2016: Mapping a Movement invites you to a spectacular evening featuring live readings and performances by Saul Williams, Ladan Osman, Bryant Terry, and featured guest hosts Black Girl in Om.

Saul Williams

Hack into the mind of Saul Williams as he speaks on poetry as design, and reads selections from his new works, “US(a.)” and Martyr Loser King. Written and recorded between Senegal, Reunion Island, Paris, Haiti, New Orleans and New York, Martyr Loser King is his new multimedia project that engages the digital dialogue between the 1st and 3rd Worlds, and the global street sounds that yoke the two.saulwilliams.comMartyr Loser King

Ladan Osman

Born in Somalia and raised in Ohio, Ladan is a poet whose work appears in Seven New Generation African Poets (2014). Ladan’s The Kitchen-Dweller’s Testimony (2015) is the winner of the Sillerman First Book Prize. And, she is a contributing editor at The Offing and lives in Chicago. The Kitchen-Dwellers Testimony


Bryant Terry

A 2015 James Beard Foundation Leadership Award-winning chef, educator, and author renowned for his activism to create a healthy, just, and sustainable food system. Bryant’s fourth book, Afro Vegan was named by as one of the best cookbooks of 2014 and was nominated for an NAACP Image Award in the Outstanding Literary Work category.


Black Girl In Om

This group promotes holistic wellness and inner beauty for women of color. Through their online publication and offline experiences, BGIO encourages self-care and self-love for women, inside and out.


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More than sponsors and supporters, these are our cohorts in the fight for social justice. They share our commitment to addressing the Raging Issues Of Today. We hope that you support them.

CTS is grateful for the partners who helped make RIOTcon 2016, “Mapping A Movement” possible.

The Chicago Community Trust is a community foundation dedicated to improving our region through strategic grant making, civic engagement and inspiring philanthropy. We are here to serve the nonprofit organizations, the generous donors and the thoughtful residents who strive to make a difference, helping their bold vision create lasting community change. We work with a number of partnerships and initiatives to accomplish this work. As businesses, local governments, and organizations strive to solve pressing challenges, the Trust brings these key actors together. Working together, we leverage collective knowledge, creativity and resources for a greater impact than any of us can make alone. website
The Chicago Sunday Evening Club creates innovative, faith-centered engagement with important issues through live events, radio, television, and new media. CSEC loves Chicago, and works to build lasting relationships of trust and goodwill among all citizens. The focus of every CSEC effort is to help people put their faith, in all its variety, into positive civic action to make Chicago better. website
Founded by a handful of book lovers in 1961, Hyde Park’s Seminary Co-op Bookstore is now widely regarded as one of the best academic bookstores in the world, housing an extensive collection of scholarly titles with a focus on the humanities and social sciences. Located a block from away, 57th Street Books stocks a substantial selection of general interest titles, including kids’ books, popular fiction, cookbooks, science fiction, mysteries, and graphic novels. website
For more than a decade, high school students, community organizers, public officials and religious leaders have worked towards building Chicago’s very first memorial honoring Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. To be located at the site of his historic 1966 Marquette Park March, The Martin Luther King, Jr. Living Memorial Project will commemorate the 50th anniversary of that historic August 5th event. Recalling the larger legacy of the March – and remembering the struggle for justice, equity and dignity – is more urgent now than ever in our city, across our nation and around the world. website
The Center for the Study of Race, Politics and Culture at the University of Chicago was established in 1994 under the direction of Professor Michael Dawson. From its inception, faculty, students, and staff have been committed to establishing a new type of research institute devoted to the study of race and ethnicity. They seek to expand the study of race beyond the black/white paradigm while exploring social and identity cleavages within racialized communities. Our scholars also endeavor to make race and ethnicity central topics of intellectual investigation by among students, faculty, and the general public. website
IMAN is a community organization that fosters health, wellness and healing in the inner-city by organizing for social change, cultivating the arts and operating a holistic health center. Currently, IMAN operates a community health center; provides transitional housing and job training for formerly incarcerated men; empowers local youth through leadership development and civic engagement; and inspire change through arts and culture programming. website
Columbia Links is a news literacy, journalism skills and leadership program for Chicago teens and teachers, housed at Columbia College Chicago. Through workshops, mentoring, and the creation of youth-produced publications, Links works to build expertise, relationships, skills and opportunities that connect students, teachers and volunteers through journalism, in the process revitalizing youth media in Chicago. website
31 Lengths is a dynamic New York ad agency singularly focused on the success of their clients. They are a creatively-led marketing firm responsible for award-winning campaigns in every medium. Since 2012, 31 Lengths has partnered with CTS to develop a fresher brand, as well as successful recruitment and fund-raising efforts. They were behind the campaigns for the Online MDiv and White Privilege Glasses. And now 31 Lengths has created the graphic designs, advertising and digital sites for the both Selma and RIOTcon conferences.
31 Lengths also works with other faith-based organizations, like the United Church of Christ. website
The Stony Island Arts Bank is a platform for contemporary art exhibitions, a venue for artist and scholar residencies, and a home for Rebuild Foundation’s archives and collections. Designed by William Gibbons Uffendell and built in 1923, the bank at 68th Street and Stony Island Avenue was once a vibrant savings and loan. But by the eighties, the branch had closed and the building remained vacant and deteriorating for decades. Reopened in October 2015, the radically restored building serves as a space for neighborhood residents to preserve, access, and share their heritage – and a destination to research and engage with South Side history. website
Community Renewal Society is a progressive, faith-based organization that works to eliminate race and class barriers. Founded in 1882, Community Renewal informs, organizes and trains both communities and individuals to advocate for social and economic justice. CRS’s mission is to transform society towards greater justice and compassion. website
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B’Gabs Goodies was formed to provide the highest quality soy free raw vegetarian and vegan foods which are packed with vitamins, enzymes, vegetable based proteins and nutrients. It is important to B’Gabs Goodies that the foods we offer are equally beautiful in presentation and delectable in taste. We believe that every person that desires to upgrade their food choices to include more live and vibrant fresh fruit, veggies, nuts and seeds should be able to do so. We value and promote the practice of clean living by using organic and local products when available and offer additional life enhancing tools to aid in your transition to a cleaner, healthier, more vibrant lifestyle. website


CTS is proud to work with partners who are committed to advancing and supporting civil rights activism and activists! Call us and let’s discuss adding your organization to our partner list. Contact Susan M. Cusick, Director of Marketing at or 773.896.2435.

Engage & Connect

One of the primary purposes of RIOTcon is to create space for dialogue and discussion. This plays out in person – as well as in social media. Here is our live social media wall. It collects and aggregates all of the conversations going on at the conference – and beyond.


RIOTcon is quickly becoming a leading national event for social justice. So here’s a list of recommended hotels, directions and maps for all our out-of-town guests.


The following properties are holding rooms for our event – please mention RIOTcon when you book!

Fresh, contemporary hotel in Hyde Park Par
of South/University Medical Center
5225 S Harper Ave, Chicago, IL 60615
Newly Remodeled!
Formerly the Chicago Lake Shore Hotel
4900 S. Lake Shore Drive, Chicago, IL 60615
Quaint Bed & Breakfast
on Michicagn Avenue
4563 S Michigan Ave, Chicago, IL 60653


If you choose to drive to RIOTcon, we recommend parking at one of these locations:

UC lot on 60th/Stony Island: Community parking is provided by University of Chicago at 60th Street and Stony Island Avenue. It is free to visitors. More information about University of Chicago community parking can be found here.

STREET PARKING: Street parking is available throughout the Hyde Park/Woodlawn community. Parking along both 60th Street and Dorchester Avenue, the streets closest to CTS, do not require a permit, but spaces are limited.
SATURDAY ONLY: Open lot south of CTS – Parking here is free on Saturday during RIOTcon. The lot is located at the CTS south entrance along Dorchester Avenue. Please avoid parking in the eastern portion of the lot, which does not belong to CTS.


There is a wealth of information about public transportation through the Chicago Transit Authority.

CTA Bus Routes:

  • The 2 and the 170 travel along 60th Street, including stops at 60th and Dorchester.
  • The 171 and the 59 stop at 60th and Dorchester.
  • The 6, the 15, the 28, and the x28 stop at 60th and Stony Island.
  • The 63 runs along 63rd Street from Blackstone to the Red Line and to Midway Airport.
To Get Downtown: Options to get downtown include the 2 (weekday rush hours), the 6, the x28 (weekday rush hours), and the Metra train.
To Get to Union Station: The x28 runs between 60th and Stony Island and Union Station during weekday rush hours.
Metra: Metra schedules are available at There are two Metra stops for the Metra Electric (travels from the south suburbs to downtown) nearby: 59th and Harper Avenue (1 block north, 2 blocks east) & 63rd and Dorchester Avenue (3 blocks south)
Hyatt Shuttle Service: If you are staying at the Hyatt, a shuttle service can bring you to and from Chicago Theological Seminary. Shuttle services are available 7am-7p

Conference Location

Chicago Theological Seminary
1407 East 60th Street, Chicago, IL 60637
Chicago Theological Seminary is located at the southeast corner of 60th and Dorchester.


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