Lipscomb University hosts African-American Student Meal

Recently the President of Lipscomb University, in Nashville, TN, hosted a Latino meal for Latino students at his home. The President served them fajita steak, tacos and Spanish rice.

The next evening the President served the African-American students (7% of the student population): BBQ ribs, BBQ fried chicken,  black-eyed peas, collard greens, cornbread and mac & cheese. The center pieces included stalks of cotton with cotton bolls attached.

When students asked the President about the choice of centerpieces, he said they were a fall theme. A student said it reminded her of her slave ancestry. He replied that “it is just cotton, everyone wears cotton, so how can one be offended?” and walked away.

The next day he issued a huge apology, also having spokespeople state that the centerpieces were the same for the Latino students, and that the choice of menu was just the food service rotating meals.

Really? So it was just a coincidence that the Latino students received fajita steak, tacos and Spanish rice? And the very next night the African-American students received fried chicken, collard greens, cornbread and black-eyed peas? Seriously? Either that is a HUGE coincidence, or the President is lying. In fact the president didn’t lie, he just refused to answer the question, when pressed, mentioning brownies and cookies, and “two or three different kinds of meats”, leaving the impression that they didn’t specifically cook an African-American meal.

Cedric Duncan, a former student, said in a Facebook forum: “they were fed cornbread and collard greens which, after working alongside lipscomb catering, i know that is pretty unusual for them to make that.”

And if the President of Lipscomb University is lying about the menu, could he also be lying about the centerpieces? Not that he personally chose the menu and the centerpieces, but someone did. Someone who was trying to be nice, but doesn’t realize they are racist, like most Christians in the Bible belt. Nobody thinks they are racist.

This is familiar territory for me, having grown up in the Churches of Christ. People in the Churches of Christ are weakest in the area of shame issues, racism and emotional honesty.

In addition to these gaffs, the students had been invited to the dinner to let the President know how they were experiencing Lipscomb University. Only they were never given a chance to say anything. They just had to listen to the President talk and talk about himself, his wife, and David Lipscomb. No listening. In his apology he stated he wanted to “engage in more conversations with students at the group and individual level.” Yeah, like they already had even one conversation? And these students would want to have more conversations with him?

So the students were pissed.

In the ensuing brou-ha-ha all the racism of the Church of Christ came trotting out in various Instagram and Facebook posts by Lipscomb students and alumni: “How could you be offended?” “Cotton is cotton, everyone wears cotton.” “They were being nice to you. Say, thank you.” “Everyone eats collard greens and black-eyed peas.” “We are raising a generation of crybabies.” “Slavery ended a long time ago. Get over it.” Etc.

That last one got me to thinking. When did racism end in the United States?

1772–a British judge brought about the conditions that would end slavery in England.

1776–The United States declared independence from Great Britain partially because Great Britain wanted to end the barbaric importation of slaves. Most of the signers of the Declaration of Independence were slave owners (41 out of 56 signers), including George Washington (who owned 317 slaves).



Alexander Campbell

spawning of the Disciples of Christ, Christian Church and Churches of Christ. Lipscomb University is named after one of the founders of the Restoration Movement, David Lipscomb,


DAvid Lipscomb 1831-1917

one of the least racist members of the movement, who preached against slavery, and inspired several to free their slaves.

1881–The Confederate States secede from the United States because the United States was becoming increasingly hostile to slavery.

1863–Abraham Lincoln frees the slaves with the Emancipation Proclamation.

1860s–The Ku Klux Klan is formed amidst Reconstruction, to keep blacks from integrating with whites, among other things. Intimidation is the main form of enforcement.

1946–The last public lynchings of black people, tickets were sold to some lynchings (before 1927), trains were chartered, picnics on the lawn before the lynching in the early afternoon, and family photos were taken with the dead body hanging in the background, and postcards of the event were sold.

1945–Black soldiers returning to the United States are denied the right to FHA and VA loans to buy houses.

1955–Blacks begin to sit in the front of the bus.

1954–The Supreme Court rules that segregation of schools is unconstitutional.

bloody Sunday

Bloody Sunday: White police beat blacks for marching for the right to register to vote and serve on juries.

1960s–Black people march for the right to register to vote, and to serve on juries. Black people begin to sit down in whites-only lunch diners.

1967–Martin Luther King is assassinated. White people laugh and rejoice. Blacks weep or riot.

1970s–The Supreme Court forces busing of students to achieve integrated schools. Whites respond by moving out of cities into white suburbs.

1972–Nixon and Ehrlichman despair of the hippies and the blacks who would not vote for Nixon. They devise a plan to intimidate and imprison hippies and blacks: the War on Drugs.

1970s–Church of Christ colleges finally admit black students, because of the threat of segregated colleges losing their federal non-profit status. This resulted in the loss of some of their donors who opposed integration.

2000s–Videos begin to appear on the internet, of police roughing up, and sometimes killing, seemingly harmless blacks: school teachers, college professors, nurses, etc. Not a single police officer is found guilty of misconduct.

2008–First black president of the United States is elected. Angry opposers insist he is Muslim, and born in Africa. Trump calls for his long form birth certificate.

2013–Black Lives Matter movement begins to counter the treatment of blacks by police.

2017–Trump refuses to endorse the Black Lives Matter Movement, instead he encourages the police to rough up their suspectsLipscomb meal

2017–Lipscomb University hosts a stereotyped meal for black students, complete with fried chicken, black-eyed peas, collard greens and cornbread, and lectures the black students on how anti-racist the university’s founder was.

So when did racism end in the United States?










About Mark

I was raised in the conservative non-institutional churches of Christ and attended Florida College in Tampa, Florida. I served as a minister for 8 years in the non-institutional churches of Christ, and 4 years at a mainline church of Christ in Vermont.
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7 Responses to Lipscomb University hosts African-American Student Meal

  1. Roger A. Harkness says:

    Mark: Everything you listed above about the civil rights movement and the reactions to it was done by the Democratic party. You need to distinguish between the opposition to blacks by the democrats and the rest of us who were trying to get equal rights for all Americans. Black Lives Matter is not a civil rights group. It is a militant Socialist group paid to do what it is doing. Just like the “Black Panthers.” Endorsing militancy in your case is alarming to me. Shouldn’t you be advocating peace or the gospel of peace? Roger A. Harkness

    • Mark says:

      Roger, I didn’t say that Black Lives Matter was a Civil Rights group. I just said it started in opposition to the way blacks are treated by the police as evidenced by numerous YouTube videos. I don’t know any black people who would agree with you about Black Lives Matter. All of my black friends support the movement. They are tired of being harassed by the police. I would encourage you to ask your black friends how they feel about Black Lives Matter.

  2. BH says:

    Petros, over at there is a book called “A Biblical Defence of Slavery” written by a Josiah Priest. In this book Priest argues using the Bible that blacks are and were meant to be the slave race of other races. He argues the Curse of Cain, He argues that the Canaanites were black and were meant to be enslaved by the Jews forever and that why the Law of Moses did not allow them to go free during the Sabbatical year, ect. To his shame Laexander Campbell allowed Priest to use one of his works as a poscript at the end of the book where Campbell basically says “Nothing wrong with Slavery, nothing to see here, move on”.

    I am a southerner who had an ancestor fight in the Confederate army. My family owned slaves to their shame and I know exactly how slavery was.

    I do not like how abolitionists are presented often times. They are portrayed as arguing slavery was against God. And of course most people know slavery is allowed in the Bible and even ordered for some offences like theft. But what most people do not know is exactly what arguments the abolitionists used when they said slavery was wrong. They didn’t just argue it was wrong in and of itself. They argued the way it was done in the south was unbiblical and since the culture there could not be reformed it should be made illegal.


  3. BH says:

    For example, few people know that slaves were used for medical experiments. One doctor wanted to find a way to fix fistulas that form in women after childbirth. He thought he could leanrhow to fix them then make lots of money fixing the problem for white women. He would experiment on black women who had just given birth, and not even give pain killers around then to the slave women while he operated on them. He would take non-pregnant black slave women and cut them in ways to simulate fistulas just to see if he could do surgery to fix the problem. I could give other examples if there was more space. The inherent cruelty such as this was one reason the abolitionists opposed slavery.

    Another argument against slavery was that of sexual mores. It was argued only married people should have sex and that one married you could not get divorced and marry someone else. Slaves were often forced to procreate outside of marriage and this was biblically wrong. The abolitionists pointed out that slave masters who married their slaves would end the marriage and make them marry someone else if one of the couple were sold to another master. Also, lots of times slave masters would force their slave women to sleep with them. Abolitionists argued this was wrong also Biblically speaking.

    Third, lots of slaves, especially light skinned slaves who often were the children of the slave owner himself, would often times be taken to the larger cities and forced into prostitution. New Orleans was a big big place for this. Of course, prostitution was unbiblical also argued the abolitionists.

    So, this racism crap was in the Church of Christ right from the start as we see in Alexander Campbell.

    And sorry about going on a tanget about abolitionists and slave owners. It’s just people around here all know the Bible allows slavery and while no one wants it back many still think the abolitionists were cooky for saying God did not approve of it. I just wanted to show where they were coming from.

  4. MJ Brooks says:

    Mark: I just discovered your blog a couple of days ago. For the sake of context, I should say that I am an African American woman who grew up in Philadelphia and in its surrounding suburbs. I always had a very diverse group of friends and thought that is how it should be. I thought blacks I knew who spoke about whites being prejudiced were being unfair.
    I am 49. It was only 2 years ago that I started learning about the history of systemic racism that formed the very basis for much of our government’s policies. In reading your blog, I am still learning. For instance, I am shocked to learn that the one of the reasons for the American Revolution was because racist American slave owners did not want to follow the new anti slavery rulings of Britain’s courts. I was always taught it was about high taxes.
    I’m writing to your to tell you please keep doing what your doing. Every day it seems like I see more and more evidence of how race and racism actually IS everywhere. I don’t know how to process that the image I had of my country is wrong. The hypocrisy and gall of those in the “ruling class” (whites) to be outraged by how those who are oppressed cry out for justice is almost unbearable. No matter how blacks protest the injustices they experience they are always criticized or belittled by those who have never experienced the oppression themselves. No one seems to care about the actual abuses and injustices. They see a someone kneel on one knee during the national anthem and that is considered a worse “injustice” than the actual injustices being protested (excessive force in policing towards blacks and minorities. There is a problem with policing when a black man is shot dead by a cop at a simple traffic stop or choked to death for selling loose cigarettes. I’m rambling on a bit now. But my point is that hopefully with education, self reflection and humility to listen to Jesus and each other we can begin to heal as a country.

    • Mark says:

      I don’t think most people understand how systemic racism has been in our country. I didn’t know. I thought it was all in the past.

      • MJ Brooks says:

        Hi again. So today I read that Gen. John Kelly said this regarding the civil war:
        “[Confederate General] Robert E. Lee was an honorable man who gave up his country to fight for his state,” Kelly said. “…Now it’s different. But the lack of an ability to compromise led to the Civil War, and men and women of good faith on both sides made their stand where their conscience had them make their stand.”

        Knowing that the Confederates fought to preserve the cruel institution of slavery, it is fairly stunning that someone in such a high leadership role (has been described as one of the “Adults in the room” guiding our President) with believes Lee was “honorable.” (For why his comments are problematic:

        Mark, I appreciate your honesty in saying you thought racism was over and all in the past.
        What made you decide to educate yourself about this issue? You could have easily continued believing what you grew up learning in history about racism in America.

        Do you think there any chance to educate those who don’t believe racism is a real problem, or who feel like non-white people in this country who speak up about racism are just ungrateful or are unpatriotic.

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