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Charles Howard
The Reverend Chaz Howard, PhD is the University Chaplain at the University of Pennsylvania, his alma mater. Prior to his return to Penn he served in hospital and hospice chaplaincies, as well as serving on street outreach teams with homelessness service agencies in Philadelphia.

He is the author of several articles and chapters as well as the editor of The Souls of Poor Folk (2007), an essay collection and multimedia project raising awareness about poverty. Dr. Howard has spoken and preached in Houses of Worship and schools around the country on topics such as poverty, spirituality, Hip Hop, and Black History.

After college, he obtained his MDiv from Andover Newton Theological Seminary and his PhD from Lutheran Theological Seminary of Philadelphia. A son of Baltimore, MD he considers himself a Godson of Philly where he lives with his partner and best friend, Dr. Lia C. Howard and his two daughters.

Entries by Charles Howard

Charleston, Juneteenth and What It Means to be Black in America

(9) Comments | Posted June 19, 2015 | 9:40 AM

My great, great, great, grandfather, who was given the name David Greer, was brought to this country after being stolen from the West Coast of Africa. The slave ship that brought him over the deadly Middle Passage landed in Charleston, South Carolina. The chains that bound him were made of...

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Baltimore: The Dehumanizing Gaze and Thug Life

(2) Comments | Posted April 28, 2015 | 5:54 PM

Billy Holiday, daughter of Baltimore, raised not far from where Freddie Gray was killed, sings the hook while Tupac Shakur, who studied at Baltimore's School for the Arts, rhymes during the verse. A remix of "Strange Fruit." Forgotten truth given new life by Pac's haunting baritone from the grave. Billy...

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What My 10-Year-Old Daughter Taught Me About the Death of Freddie Gray

(19) Comments | Posted April 25, 2015 | 3:53 PM

"I don't like Black people" a little girl said to my daughter earlier this week in school. My daughter, who is Black, was stunned to hear these seemingly out-of-nowhere words from her non-Black classmate.

She came home that night, upset and hesitant to tell us what happened. She didn't want...

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Protest vs. Privilege: A Tale of Two Americas in the Wake of Eric Garner and Michael Brown

(2) Comments | Posted December 4, 2014 | 11:58 AM

When I was in college I belonged to an a cappella group called The Inspiration. There is nothing like the experience of different voices coming together in harmony.

There is also nothing like being a part of a group of voices that are just missing each other....

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Riding and Waiting: A Response to the Non-Indictment

(57) Comments | Posted November 25, 2014 | 11:22 AM

Nina Simone singing. Chuck D rhyming. Ghosts of my dad and granddad sitting in the backseat.

The ghost of Michael Brown in the passenger seat.

I ride waiting. Driving around listening to the news out of Ferguson. There are police on almost every block. Also riding and waiting.

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What I Wish I Knew When I Was a Freshman

(0) Comments | Posted August 19, 2014 | 12:17 PM

Eighteen years have passed since I was eighteen. Pausing to reflect on this milestone, I wondered what I would say to the younger me if given the opportunity. I share these thoughts with the hope that they will resonate with current freshmen and the eighteen year old freshmen inside many...

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No Justice, No Peace: What I've Felt and What Is Next in the Wake of the Trayvon Martin Verdict

(586) Comments | Posted July 14, 2013 | 12:52 AM

To me the phrase "No Justice, No Peace" is not so much a threat as much as it is a cry of the heart. It is not simply a call to protest, but also a naming of the powers and what those powers have done.

A lack of justice...

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Celebrate Life: A Song, A Clothing Line, and Suicide Prevention

(0) Comments | Posted June 11, 2013 | 12:10 PM

Earlier this month, Interscope and Matriarch Records recording artist Starshell spoke and performed at the Walk out of Darkness event, sponsored by the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP) in Washington, D.C. These Out of Darkness Walks, which are held all over...

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The Penn Relays, the Boston Marathon and Having the Courage to Run Through Terror

(1) Comments | Posted April 25, 2013 | 9:21 AM

She runs the same path that the feet of legends once graced. Carrying what was passed to her. And we, the great cloud of witnesses, we roar, both remembering and hoping. Watching the time, knowing that records will be broken, proud that our children will break them.


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'Habari Gani?': Celebrating Kwanzaa on Campus in the 21st Century

(2) Comments | Posted December 27, 2012 | 2:41 PM

"Habari gani?" is the Swahili way of saying "What's the news?" and it's how each day of Kwanzaa opens up, inviting the community to respond with the day's news or particular principle. We wanted to share some of the news around Kwanzaa on our college campus with the hope that...

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After Newtown, A Call For Spiritual Activism Around Gun Violence: Fasting for Peace

(16) Comments | Posted December 16, 2012 | 7:29 PM

I imagine that many of us who travel on public transit had a similar commute home on Friday afternoon. Shaken spirits while trying to hold on to a shaking subway train. Tragedy on our minds. No one saying "Thank God it's Friday". Just "Why God?" and "Please God."


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The Psychological and Existential Experience of Seeing a Black President Win Reelection

(34) Comments | Posted November 7, 2012 | 5:06 PM

I'll be honest. On the morning of November 7th, I most definitely walked with my head held a little higher, my chest puffed out, and with a Denzel bop in my step. And everyone who looked like me on the subway and the walk from the subway had the same...

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Amatus: Critical Artist and Harbinger of Where Music Is Going

(2) Comments | Posted November 2, 2012 | 9:51 AM

There is a temptation, when trying to describe an artist's sound, to compare them to other artists, but there is something inherently limiting in this. Yet by associating a new artist with another with whom we are more familiar, we are able to more easily categorize them. Many of us...

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Beyond February: Black History and The Importance of Discovering Institutional Memory

(0) Comments | Posted August 20, 2012 | 10:29 AM

Knowing the history of our institutions, particularly our history within the institutions in which we find ourselves, is critically important and can be potentially life changing. In some cases, it may even be institution changing. For the last several years, we have had the honor of developing and co-teaching a...

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Deep Rivers, Souls, and the Enduring Artistic Challenge: A Reflection on Paul Robeson and Rob Murat

(0) Comments | Posted August 13, 2012 | 11:52 AM

I never had a chance to meet either of my grandfathers in person. But I have grown to know and love them through the stories that have been passed down to me over the years. In many ways I feel deeply connected to both of them. Like my mother's father,...

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Starshell: Light, Liberation and Suicide Prevention

(3) Comments | Posted July 24, 2012 | 12:10 AM

Soul deep connections like ekstasis. Passion driven art connecting the artist with something bigger than herself. A passion driven calling connecting the artist with others on both sides of thin places. Light from the darkness. Light into the darkness.

This is the first in a series of...

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Invisible Wounds: First Lady Michelle Obama and Dr. Jill Biden Announce Nursing Initiative to Care for Veterans With PTSD

(1) Comments | Posted April 13, 2012 | 6:20 PM

April 11, 2012 marked the one-year anniversary of the launching of Joining Forces, an initiative led by first lady Michelle Obama and Dr. Jill Biden that champions wellness, education, and employment among military service members and their families -- opportunities they all have earned many times over.


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Holy Tensions: Lessons From a Christian Pilgrimage to the Holy Land

(7) Comments | Posted March 23, 2012 | 4:52 PM

I have always loved water. Growing up, my friend Chris and I would spend hours of each day playing by and in a creek that ran near our apartment complex. I loved trying to balance on the rocks and watching the little crayfish swim by, but I especially loved those...

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Will Trayvon Martin Be Mentioned in Your Congregation This Weekend?

(55) Comments | Posted March 23, 2012 | 12:49 PM

The phrase "I am Trayvon Martin" has been repeated by demonstrators, posted as status updates and tweets, and whispered by young black men and women walking the streets of our nation knowing that sadly they too may "look suspicious."

I and many others can't help but weep at saying the...

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Deep Calls to Deep: Re-imagining the Altar Call

(2) Comments | Posted February 15, 2012 | 12:20 PM

I imagine. An invitation from the front. A voice carries all the way to the back of the sanctuary and touches our ears. Courage. Heschel said it felt like his legs were praying. And me too. We stand with legs carrying us, congregation praising for us, and angels rejoicing above...

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