WHAT: A luncheon featuring special guest Rev. Traci Blackmon of Christ the King UCC in Florissant, Missouri, and a Kennedy Center Honors-style awards ceremony to celebrate the legacy of Dr. Starks and our 2017 honorees.

WHEN: Luncheon – February 9th, 2017 @ 12:00 PM
Awards Ceremony – February 9th, 2017 @ 7:00-9:00 PM

WHERE: THE GUEST HOUSE AT GRACELAND
3600 Elvis Presley Blvd.
Memphis, TN 38116

CONTACT: Dr. Rosalyn Nichols
901-334-5808
rnichols@memphisseminary.edu

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Rev. Traci Blackmon is the Acting Executive Minister of Justice & Witness Ministries for The United Church of Christ and Senior Pastor of Christ the King United Church of Christ in Florissant, MO.

Initially ordained in the African Methodist Episcopal Church, Rev. Blackmon served in various ministry capacities for 9 years, prior to becoming ordained in the United Church of Christ and installed as the first woman and 18th pastor in the 159 year history of Christ the King United Church of Christ.

Each February, Memphis Theological Seminary (MTS) hosts a community event to celebrate the life and witness of the late Dr. Henry Logan Starks, the first African-American professor at MTS. Known as the Henry Logan Starks Scholarship Dinner, the event pays homage to Dr. Starks’ legacy as a theologian, community leader and activist, and benefits the scholarship endowment in his name. Through the generous support of Dinner guests and benefactors, the Starks Endowment Fund generates scholarship dollars for African-American students who are following the path of Dr. Starks – attaining a theological education.

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Through his faith, Dr. Starks invested in and touched the lives of countless others.  As a member of the first desegregated cohort and, subsequently, the first African American professor at Memphis Theological Seminary, Dr. Starks blazed many trails.  The fruit of his investments can be found in pulpits, board rooms, and community organizations across Memphis and throughout our nation.  Your gift helps MTS empower deserving students to enrich their communities.

The Reverend Dr. Henry Logan Starks, The Gentle Giant

In 1964, Memphis Theological Seminary moved to Memphis from McKenzie, Tennessee at the height of the Civil Rights Movement. Henry Logan Starks was one of six African-American students to enroll in MTS after its move to Memphis. In welcoming the six students, MTS became one of the first predominantly white institutions in Memphis to admit African-Americans. This was the beginning of a diverse MTS community that continues to flourish and grow.

Dr. Starks was a community activist. He was a key leader of the 1968 Memphis Sanitation Workers’ Strike and a force behind the Black Monday school boycotts, which consolidated the support of Memphis students and teachers for sanitation workers. Though tenacious in his passion for the rights and welfare of all people, Starks was dubbed by the community as the “Gentle Giant” because of the quiet dignity and resolute leadership he maintained even under the most tumultuous circumstances.

After graduating from MTS, he became the first African-American member of the MTS faculty while continuing to serve as Pastor of St. James African Methodist Episcopal Church. He died on July 4, 1985. A well-respected leader and beloved pastor and faculty member, he left a lasting legacy in Memphis and for MTS. The local newspapers described Starks, who coined the phrase “You are somebody,” as “…in the elite class with Dr. [Martin Luther] King, A. Phillip Randolph and Medgar Evers.”