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Cocktails and Politics with Phil Allen, Jr.

5:30 PM 7:30 PM
2000 Vine Street Kansas City, MO 64108

Cocktails and Politics with Phil Allen, Jr.

5:30 PM 7:30 PM
2000 Vine Street Kansas City, MO 64108

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., used news cameras as a means of exposing anti-Black violence by white mobs in the 1950s and 60s. Darnella Frazier used her phone to record and post the murder of George Floyd by Derek Chauvin in May 2020. These are just two of many people who have captured images of injustice for the world to see.

In his book, “The Prophetic Lens: The Camera and Black Moral Agency,” Phil Allen, Jr., takes an important look at the use of the video camera as an indispensable prophetic tool for the security of Black lives and greater possibility for racial justice. Allen shows how the camera can be a catalyst for cultural change, using Walter Brueggemann’s “Prophetic Imagination” as a framework for understanding the concept of “prophetic.” Chronicling the use of the camera, particularly in film from J.D. Griffiths’ “Birth of a Nation” to Spike Lee’s “Do the Right Thing,” Allen’s historical approach reveals how effective this technology has been in achieving the goals of its respective storytellers.

On Wednesday, February 15, 2023, American Public Square at Jewell hosted a conversation with Phil Allen, Jr. over cocktails from Vine Street Brewing Co. and light bites from Chef Shanita at the 2000 Vine Building in Kansas City’s historic 18th & Vine Jazz district.  

Featured Guest: Phil Allen, Jr.

Phil Allen, Jr. is a Ph.D. candidate at Fuller Theological Seminary where he is a Pannell Center for Black Church Studies Fellow.

As an emerging ethicist and theologian his research integrates Black Church theology and praxis, a theology of justice, healing racial trauma, and fostering ethics of racial solidarity. He is the founder of the non-profit Racial Solidarity Project and author of “Open Wounds: A Story of Racial Tragedy, Trauma, and Redemption” (Fortress Press 2021) and “The Prophetic Lens: The Camera and Black Moral Agency From MLK to Darnella Frazier” (Fortress Press 2022). 

He is a speaker, poet, documentary film producer, and Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion consultant. He is also founder and Executive Director of Racial Solidarity Project based out of Pasadena, CA. As a former Division 1 college basketball player, he has enjoyed opportunities as a guest chaplain for several college and professional sports teams. 


Dr. Rodney D. Smith is the inaugural Vice President for Access and Engagement at William Jewell College. In this role, Smith provides strategic leadership for the College regarding issues of diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging. Smith also oversees the work of the Center for Justice and Sustainability, which promotes cross-cultural engagement among students, faculty, staff and community members of all identities and backgrounds.

Prior to joining Jewell, Smith served as a consultant with Sophic Solutions, LLC., a consulting firm he co-founded. The firm specializes in equity and inclusion consulting as well as business and not-for-profit management solutions.

Dr. Smith also holds a Graduate Adjunct Professorship with the School of Education at the University of Missouri-Kansas City, where he teaches courses that address racial and ethnic diversity, and cultural understanding. Over his 25-year career, Smith’s scholarly interests have taken aim at the implications of race and racism in American Society.

Dr. Smith recently wrote and published a book entitled, “Are We Really Crabs in a Barrel: The Truth and Other Insights About the African American Community,” as well as a chapter in an anthology entitled “The Trayvon Martin in Us: An American Tragedy.”

Smith holds a Doctor of Education Degree from Tennessee State University, a Master of Education Degree also from Tennessee State University and a Bachelor of Arts Degree from Morris Brown College.

Season Program Sponsors

Hall Family Foundation

Health Forward Foundation


Sue Seidler Nerman and Lewis Nerman

Marny and John Sherman

William Jewell College