Marcus Trammell is the Associate Director of the Wendland-Cook Program in Religion and Justice. A graduate of Vanderbilt Divinity School and a seasoned community organizer, Trammell shared his passion for justice and his firm belief that something better is possible. The following are his edited remarks at the opening of the inaugural event on April 10, 2019:
When Joerg first talked to me about returning to the divinity school, I didn't quite know what to think. I didn't want to get too caught up in it because it seemed like a long shot to me, and my path to VDS as a student was not a typical path—if there is a typical path to getting into Vanderbilt Divinity School.
My work since graduating has also been equally and often a head-scratching, meandering path, but one in that the constant was the pursuit of justice and a yearning for community, for hope, for love, and for the belief that something better is possible. In the years since graduating, there has been some progress made in the world, but there has also been many troubling manifestations of the deep undercurrents of injustice and bigotry — of hate and exploitation — that continue to plague our planet and our communities.
But today we are here to celebrate yet another great initiative coming out of this institution, lending its voice and resources to many more generations of students, seekers, activists and educators who know something better is possible, and who also know that there is no rest until this work is done.
Thank you to everyone here, for the generations of work and the commitments you have made to truth and to justice. Thank you to everyone who is willing to come together and to work together. That's not always a given in this day and age. Thank you to those who make the hard choices, ask the hard questions, and to those who choose the narrow and unlikely paths in life. Thank you.
There is a passage in the Hebrew Bible that admonishes us to do justice, to love kindness, and to do it in a spirit of humility. I'm not sure I'm quite there yet, but my hope for my time here at VDS is to make some progress down that path and to bring others with me.