The Witness

Announcing The Witness 2019 National Conference: Continuing the 400 Year Journey of Joy and Justice

Jemar Tisby

Announcing The Witness 2019 National Conference: Continuing the 400 Year Journey of Joy and Justice

October 31st. Reformation Day. Five hundred years ago a German monk named Martin Luther nailed 95 Theses to the church doors at Wittenberg and helped spark the Protestant Reformation. Through a bewildering amount of twists, turns, schisms, fractures, and revivals Protestant Christians have become a worldwide and diverse people of faith.

Our organization, The Witness, a Black Christian Collective, is part of the legacy of the Reformation. October 31 also happens to be the anniversary of our ministry. It’s been seven years since we started with a modest Facebook page. Now we have over 30,000 followers across our social media platforms. We launched a website that now hosts hundreds of articles on race, religion, and culture. We now have a podcast, Pass The Mic, with over 140 episodes that have been downloaded tens of thousands of times. We had a Pass The Mic Live tour and visited cities from New York to Dallas to D.C. And we’re not done yet.

We have traditionally reserved Reformation Day and our anniversary for special announcements in the life of The Witness. This year we may have our biggest announcement yet.

For the first time ever, we are hosting a national conference. It’s called “The Witness 2019 National Conference: Continuing the 400 Year Journey of Black Joy and Justice.”


In 1619, records show that “20 and odd Negroes” arrived at Point Comfort, a British colony in Virginia. Although it appears other Africans had arrived on other parts of continent before, this date is widely marked as the start of what became race-based chattel slavery in North America. These women and men were traded to the British for food. Treated not as people but as property, the history of African-descended people in North America has always been about a struggle for justice.


But the black struggle against injustice is not the whole story. There is another theme that deserves attention—joy. 

Even in the midst of crushing circumstances—slavery, Jim Crow segregation, institutionalized racism—black people have found a way to hold on to joy. This is particularly true for people of faith. As they say, when it comes to joy, “The world didn’t give it, and the world can’t take it away.” Black joy has brought us gospel music, durags and afro puffs, homecoming at HBCUs, black preaching, #blacktwitter, Wakanda, and more. Black people have enriched what it means to both fight for justice and do so without losing hope or happiness.

It is for joy and with joy that we pursue justice.

More details will follow, but we invite people of all races and ethnicities to join us as we continue the 400 year journey of both black joy and justice. We’ll gather in Chicago the weekend of October 4-5, 2019. Mark your calendar now for an event that will be filled with warmth and truth, love and grace, joy and justice. See you there!

11 thoughts on “Announcing The Witness 2019 National Conference: Continuing the 400 Year Journey of Joy and Justice

  1. Rights

    Thank you for this post it really helped me. Keep it up.

  2. Jake

    I have the same question, I’m not certain if it available yet. If you know something, please let me know. Thanks!

  3. Jake

    Is there a link to register? Somehow I can’t find one.

  4. Nicole Saint-Victor

    Looking forward to attending and possibly bringing over 40 college students as part of a larger program that engages diversity. When will dates be available?

  5. Chris House

    Really hoping to be at the conference!! Jemar, I love your book…the podcasts (PTM and Footnotes) as well as our sisters at Truth’s Table. This is going to be amazing man! We love you here in VA!

  6. Cherie Bellamy

    Love the book! We just saw you in DC for your book tour…powerful talk.

    Congratulations! We’re Looking forward to the conference.

  7. Ivan O Gonzalez

    What a delight to have Jemar do his book launch at River City Community Church located in West Humboldt Park in Chicago this past week. As a mixed heritage, Puerto Rican, I resonated with the historical survey Jemar covers in his newly released book, “The Color of Compromise”. His suggestions in the last chapter are well worth the read; practical, doable and worth pursuing.

    I’ve been in the place of deep lament and been consumed by that pain. When I catch a glimpse of the hope that is found in Jesus and the power of His death, crucifixion, and resurrection then my hope is strengthened; my circumstances changed; my perspective sharpened to see the kingdom of God through the cross of suffering. It is then when I can shout! I can believe! I can withstand and stand in a community of brothers and sisters who suffer and rejoice together. The power of Joy in the midst of atrocious suffering, especially when connected to faith in the ever-present God is something we need to learn deeply in our time as we love mercy, do justice and walk humbly with our God.

    This promises to be a catalytic event!

  8. Tiffany Acuff

    How do I register for this?

  9. Brian

    I’ll be there! Really looking forward to meeting everyone.

  10. VJP

    I cannot wait to come to Chicago.

  11. Angela Courage

    Sounds awesome! Congratulations on the growth of this ministry.

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