Summit Keynote Speakers
Reverend John Lewis
John Lewis, was born the son of sharecroppers on February 21, 1940, outside of Troy, Alabama. He grew up on his family’s farm and attended segregated public schools in Pike County, Alabama. As a young boy, he was inspired by the activism surrounding the Montgomery Bus Boycott and the words of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., which he heard on radio broadcasts. In those pivotal moments, he made a decision to become a part of the Civil Rights Movement. Ever since then, he has remained at the vanguard of progressive social movements and the human rights struggle in the United States.
As a student at Fisk University, John Lewis organized sit-in demonstrations at segregated lunch counters in Nashville, Tennessee. In 1961, he volunteered to participate in the Freedom Rides, which challenged segregation at interstate bus terminals across the South. Lewis risked his life on those Rides many times by simply sitting in seats reserved for white patrons. He was also beaten severely by angry mobs and arrested by police for challenging the injustice of Jim Crow segregation in the South.
During the height of the Movement, from 1963 to 1966, Lewis was named Chairman of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), which he helped form. SNCC was largely responsible for organizing student activism in the Movement, including sit-ins and other activities.
While still a young man, John Lewis became a nationally recognized leader. Despite more than 40 arrests, physical attacks and serious injuries, John Lewis remained a devoted advocate of the philosophy of nonviolence. By 1963, he was dubbed one of the Big Six leaders of the Civil Rights Movement. At the age of 23, he was an architect of and a keynote speaker at the historic March on Washington in August 1963.
In 1964, John Lewis coordinated SNCC efforts to organize voter registration drives and community action programs during the Mississippi Freedom Summer. The following year, Lewis helped spearhead one of the most seminal moments of the Civil Rights Movement. Hosea Williams, another notable Civil Rights leader, and John Lewis led over 600 peaceful, orderly protestors across the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Alabama on March 7, 1965. They intended to march from Selma to Montgomery to demonstrate the need for voting rights in the state. The marchers were attacked by Alabama state troopers in a brutal confrontation that became known as “Bloody Sunday.” News broadcasts and photographs revealing the senseless cruelty of the segregated South helped hasten the passage of the Voting Rights Act of 1965.
In 1977, John Lewis was appointed by President Jimmy Carter to direct more than 250,000 volunteers of ACTION, the federal volunteer agency. He was elected to Congress in November 1986 and has served as U.S. Representative of Georgia’s Fifth Congressional District.
John Lewis holds a B.A. in Religion and Philosophy from Fisk University, and he is a graduate of the American Baptist Theological Seminary, both in Nashville, Tennessee. He has been awarded over 50 honorary degrees from prestigious colleges and universities throughout the United States, including Harvard University, Brown University, the University of Pennsylvania, Princeton University, Duke University, Morehouse College, Clark-Atlanta University, Howard University, Brandeis University, Columbia University, Fisk University, and Troy State University.
John Lewis is the recipient of numerous awards from eminent national and international institutions, including the highest civilian honor granted by President Barack Obama, the Medal of Freedom and numerous other awards.
John Lewis lives in Atlanta, Georgia. He has one son, John Miles.
Dr. Darryl Aaron
Reverend Dr. Darryl Warren Aaron is a native of Charlotte, NC where he was a member of Friendship Missionary Baptist Church. In 1993, he earned a Bachelor of Arts in Dramatic Literature from North Carolina Central University. He received certification to teach from UNC-Charlotte and did further study towards a Master of Fine Arts degree from UNC-Greensboro. While he was at UNCG, he was a watchcare member at Providence Baptist Church.
Dr. Aaron is an honors graduate of the Samuel DeWitt Proctor School of Theology at Virginia Union University, where he received the Master of Divinity degree in 1999. In 2008, he began serving as the senior pastor of the First Baptist Church – Highland Avenue in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. He received the Doctor of Ministry degree in Church Growth and Development from Drew University in 2012. On Sunday, December 6, 2015, Providence Baptist Church voted overwhelmingly to accept the Reverend Dr. Darryl Warren Aaron as our new pastor.
Dr. Aaron has been blessed with several mentors in the ministry, including Dr. Clifford Jones, Dr. James Harris, the late Dr. Howard Chubbs, and Dr. Ricky Woods. In 1996, he was licensed to the ministry at Second Baptist Church in Richmond, Virginia, under the leadership of Dr. Harris. In 2000, while serving as Youth and Associate Minister, Rev. Aaron was ordained at First Baptist Church West in Charlotte, NC, under the leadership of Dr. Woods. In 2008, Dr. Aaron was called to serve as Senior Pastor at First Baptist Church – Highland Avenue, the oldest African-American Baptist church in Winston-Salem. Significant accomplishments under his leadership include a major building program. Community service projects include the Louise Smith Summer Adventure Camp, Kids for Christ, Operation Inasmuch, a food pantry and a clothes closet. He also established several strategic partnerships with Habitat for Humanity, CHANGE, and Wake Forest School of Divinity. Friday Noonday Service and Wednesday Bible Study provide opportunities for reflection and prayer. The Health / Wellness Ministry, the tutoring program for school-age children, the Communications Ministry and the Strategic Planning Committee are part of the church’s “view with a vision”.
Dr. Aaron and his wife Monica are the proud parents of two teenaged children – Naomi Audrey and Noah Augustine. During his spare time, Rev. Aaron enjoys reading, running, and the performing arts.
Dr. Marie Onwubuariri
The Rev. Dr. Marie Onwubuariri is an ordained American Baptist serving as Regional Executive Minister of the American Baptist Churches of Wisconsin, a region of congregations, organizations, and individuals committed to living into its diversity across race/ethnicity, theology, socioeconomic status, and urban/suburban/rural cultures. In her pastoral, administrative, and educational ministries Rev. Marie strives to embody an approach that integrates cultural self-knowing, interpersonal and organizational practices that affirm the value of and ensure equity for all people, and a deep trust in the work of the Triune God.
Rev. Marie has been shaped through her work experiences as Director of Admissions at the American Baptist Seminary of the West (ABSW), Pastor and ministerial staff member at three America Baptist churches in the San Francisco Bay area, ecumenical cross-cultural competency trainer, volunteerism in various roles within ABCUSA, executive in the retail industry, and a lifetime of straddling the intersections of multiple cultures.
She is co-editor of Trouble the Water: A Christian Resource for the Work of Racial Justice (Nurturing Faith, 2017), which highlights a variety of voices that make it unique among resources for individuals and congregations endeavoring to take seriously the work toward racial justice while attending to the intersections of human identities and the intersecting nature of oppression, injustice, and violence.
Her educational training includes a BS in Business Management at Binghamton University (NY), and a Master of Divinity and Doctor of Ministry at ABSW (Berkeley, CA). She looks forward to continue to develop her doctoral work focused on raising up a new generation of holistic intercultural transformational leaders through a character-forming spiritual practice of cultural self-knowing and negotiation.
Rev. Marie is grateful for the diverse realities within her region, among her ministry networks, and in her personal life as wife, mother, family member, friend, and community member, which all continue to teach her and keep her accountable to the justice call of the Good News of Jesus Christ. Her balancing grace is each opportunity she has to engage her expressions as poet, photographer, and pianist. Brookfield, Wisconsin is current home to Rev. Marie, her husband Franklin, children Anaya and Sol, and dog Winnie.
Rev. Alan Sherouse
Alan is the Pastor of First Baptist Church of Greensboro, NC. He served previously as pastor of Metro Baptist Church in New York City, as well as at Immanuel Baptist in Nashville, TN and First Baptist Church of Lexington, NC.
A graduate of Palm Beach Atlantic University (BA, 2002), Wake Forest University Divinity School (MDIV, 2005), and Vanderbilt University (MA, 2010), Alan is active in community and church leadership through various boards and involvements, including recently serving as Chair of the Missions Council of the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship. Additionally, Alan teaches periodically at his alma mater, Wake Forest University Divinity School, where he serves on the Board of Visitors. Alan is a columnist with Baptist News Global and a contributor to The Huffington Post Religion page.
Alan is married to Jenny, and they have 4 children: Jack, Della, Warner and Bea.