The Millennial Womanism Project (TMWP) Presents “Millennial Womanists To Watch”
A monthly profile highlighting emerging voices doing incredible work in ministry, the academy and in social justice work.
Name: Lakisha R. Lockhart, Ph.D.
City: Richmond, VA
TMWP: What does it mean to be a millennial woman of African descent in the field of practical theology/ religious education?
Lakisha R. Lockhart: I consider it a great honor to be a millennial woman of African descent in the fields of practical theology and religious education. I get the honor of walking in the footprints of amazing black women like Olivia Pearl Stokes, the first African American woman to obtain a doctorate in religious education, Anne Streaty Wimberly, Evelyn L. Parker, and the late Yolanda L. Smith & Katie G. Cannon. This means I have great black women who have suffered, fought, and kicked down doors that I am now able to walk through. So, with this honor comes great responsibility to do the work that I am called to do of teaching and working for the liberation of all people.
TMWP: Tell us about your work. What inspired you to do this work?
Lakisha R. Lockhart: My work involves using creativity, imagination and play as tools for teaching theological education to both young people and adults. I believe in the power of play, movement, aesthetics, and creative arts in life and in theology and I actively advocate and use the body as a locus for doing theology through engaged and embodied pedagogical practices. This means that in my classrooms, at The Samuel DeWitt Proctor School of Theology at Virginia Union University where I am an Assistant Professor of Practical Theology, we move and connect what we are reading with our bodies and the communities in which we find ourselves. This means that when I work with my high school students, through the STREAM Youth Theology Institute that I direct, we move and connect our faith to our bodies.
My work uses play, creativity, and imagination to re-connect what the academy and Eurocentric norms have severed: our minds & bodies. Both of which are gifts and should be used to live out our faith and the work that God has called us to do. I was inspired to do this work because I was told that my black woman’s body meant that I could not make it in the world of minds. So, I took that energy and took my body back and realized the power and value in re-connecting the body and the mind and how it aids in helping us teach, learn and grow across difference for intercultural and interreligious exchange.
TMWP:. How does your work expand traditional womanist epistemologies?
Lakisha R. Lockhart: In the American Academy, I have found that I have to jump a rope. A white, Western, male Christian narrative-a-rope that I am expected to jump in a certain way. However, this is very difficult for me and others who do not identify with or know how to jump this particular rope. My work uses womanist epistemologies and puts them into action. I use a womanist rope in order to do Double-Dutch, together, regardless of difference. This rope is
one that embraces a womanist consciousness as it advocates for the agency and identity formation of all, the lifting up, solidarity and accountability of all persons, the freedom of embodiment and expression in all forms, and remains active and critical of injustice and all systems of oppression. Once this rope is added everyone can begin to engage in embodied experiences and cultural expressions that are seen and valued as a means of knowing, being, and making meaning and do the hard work of Double-Dutch together.
TMWP: Recently, our beloved womanist trailblazer Rev. Dr. Katie Cannon became an ancestor. How is Dr. Cannon’s legacy significant for your work and ministry?
Lakisha R. Lockhart: Dr. Cannon’s legacy is not only significant for my work and ministry it is vital. As I contemplate what a womanist approach to educating in faith means she, along with other womanist scholars, are my foundations. It was Dr. Cannon’s work in Katie’s Cannon: Womanism and the Soul of the Black Community that first laid out a womanist pedagogy for me and its need to not only emerge from a black woman’s experience, but that it must also make space for the various ways in which black women come to know, to be, and to take part in meaning making and living in the world- their cultural reality. She continues to explain how this must involve disrupting oppressive systems that do not make space for the creative and embodied realities of not just black women, but all people. These are now things that I, in my womanist pedagogy, try to do. I try to make space for all to have their being, make meaning and disrupt systems through play, creativity, aesthetics, movement, imagination, and embodiment.
TMWP: What can we expect from you within the next year?
Lakisha R. Lockhart: Within the next year I will be teaching several classes at the Samuel DeWitt Proctor School of Theology at Virginia Union University, Directing the STREAM Youth Theology Institute, working on bringing a much needed Freedom School to the Richmond area for our young people, working with the organization that I am president of ARC (Arts, Religion, and Culture), and working on outlining and starting the beginning stages of my first book: Doing Double-Dutch: Womanish Modes of Play as a Pedagogical Resource for Theological Education.
TMWP:. How can people support your work?
Lakisha R. Lockhart: Folks can support my work in 4 ways:
- Support STREAM Youth Theology Institute and the Richmond Freedom School by offering monetary donations, sponsoring a young person, or volunteering your time or skills. Or consider starting a Freedom School in your own area!
- Recommend a young person to our program or let them know about our programs or a similar program near you.
- Check out the organization ARC that I am a part of that works for a just world where creativity and spirituality work together to promote the flourishing of all creation.
- Most of all folks can support my work by doing the work God has called them to do. If we all live into who we have been called to be then we are aiding in the building and sustaining of the bigger picture that is the kin-dom of God.
TMWP: Where can they go for more information and updates? Please email me at LRLockhart@vuu.edu or STREAMYTI@gmail.com. For more information about ARC go to www.artsreligionculture.org
Lakisha R. Lockhart: To learn more about Freedom Schools go to https://www.childrensdefense.org/programs/cdf-freedom-schools
For more information about the STREAM Youth Theology Institute go to www.STREAMYTI.com
Millennial Womanism is an emerging concept developed by Liz S Alexander and Melanie C Jones that seeks to draw upon a unique womanist epistemological and methodological framework utilizing a millennial lens.