Dr. Clyde Posley Jr. has served as senior pastor at Antioch Baptist Church in Indianapolis for more than 20 years. The 2016 doctoral alumnus (Ph.D. in Interdisciplinary Studies with a concentration in Humanities & Culture and a specialization in Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Studies) is passionate in his fight for racial equality and social justice. He also evokes Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s message of love and forgiveness in his work, always reminded of Dr. King’s words, “I have decided to stick with love. Hate is too great a burden to bear.”
It was Union’s MLK Studies Specialization that attracted him to Union to pursue his doctoral degree. According to Dr. Posley, “Dr. Thomas Brown, the son of Dr. Andrew Brown Jr., a good friend of Dr. King, was instrumental in my selection of Union for doctoral studies. Dr. Andrew Brown was the face of social activism in the 1960s and 1970s in the greater Indianapolis area. He was a very prominent Black activist and leader in Indianapolis. Dr. King made his abode with him when in the city of Indianapolis. He was also a major catalyst for Operation Bread Basket, a tool of social activism around the country serving oppressed people of color. His son, Dr. Thomas Brown, was instrumental in the formation of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) across the country. He encouraged me to expand my horizons and my leadership skills to advance social justice. Heeding the advice and urging of Dr. Thomas Brown proved extremely fruitful and thus my studies at Union exposed me to social and political philosophy, history, religious studies, literature, and aesthetics. Ultimately, it led to the deep exploration of Dr. King’s ideas, ideals, and creative and intellectual philosophy and how those philosophies intersect with theological principles.”
Dr. Posley explains that Dr. Nancy Boxill, 1998 Union alumna and doctoral faculty member, was also instrumental in helping him determine that Union was the right school for him. “She later became the chair of my dissertation committee. Her broad understanding of the social need to weave philosophy, public policy and theological principles into an intellectual garment for those seeking social justice for all made her presence invaluable to me.”
In addition to his position at Antioch Baptist Church, Dr. Posley serves as the executive chaplain for Pink-4Ever, a breast health education servicing organization. He leads fellow church members in R.E.D. Alliance (Reaching to End Disparities), a faith-based educational program that addresses systemic intervention and culturally sensitive health information related to health disparities and works to provide affordable and accessible breast health services and treatment of breast cancer among Black women in the greater Indianapolis area.
He also participated with 40 Indianapolis area churches to arrange transportation to voting polls in the recent presidential election of 2020. “We helped 20,000 people get to the polls in October and November,” he said. And, more recently, Dr. Posley has helped plan how the elderly can best get access to COVID-19 vaccination centers.
Another significant aspect of Dr. Posley’s work for social justice has resulted in substantive police reform in Indianapolis. Proposal 237, which he helped draft, may be the first of its kind in the nation. Proposal 237 adds four civilian members, to which Dr. Posley has been appointed, to the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department’s General Orders Board. The board sets department policy such as procedures for investigations, arrests, use of force, searches, and seizures. (Source: Fox 59) “I have been instrumental in the new use of force policy implemented by the mayor of Indianapolis with Faith in Indiana, a comprehensive social justice organization that has resulted in the elimination of chokeholds.”
Dr. Posley has served as president of the Pastors and Ministers Division of Union District Baptist Association, located in Indianapolis. He currently coordinates the Racial and Social Justice division in addition to serving as the founding editor of the association’s newsletter, “The Union District Voice.” He authored a comprehensive ministerial training curriculum for Christian ministers titled, Union District Association Pastor’s and Minister’s Conference Ministerial Certificate Program. He is a former instructor in the National Baptist Convention USA, Inc. Congress of Christian Education youth division.
Dr. Posley did not grow up thinking he was destined for the ministry. A standout in football, basketball, and baseball, lettering in two sports in college, he saw sports as his ticket to a better life. “I grew up in a rough neighborhood,” he recalls. “I saw sports and education as my way out.” But, at the age of 21, he says God called him to preach. “I had my first inkling that I was meant for the ministry at 15 after a conversation with my family’s pastor.” His mother was not surprised even though other family members had mixed reactions. “She told me my grandparents foretold my calling.”
Dr. Posley’s doctoral dissertation: The embodiment of the Black male student-athlete: A case study of the 1968 medal stand protest, is an exploration of the protest at the 1968 Summer Olympics in Mexico City when athletes Tommie Smith and John Carlos raised their fists in protest as a symbol of black power and the human rights movement at large. His dissertation expanded into a 2018 book, More than Icons and Images: Uncovering the Hidden Protest Narrative of American Black Athlete in the 21st Century, spotlighted on C-SPAN in January 2019. Dr. Posley provides a historical context to current American socio/political protests among Black athletes and draws upon his knowledge of sports and racism to show the intersectionality between politics, race, and sports in America.
“Beginning with the Mandinka warriors who were forced to engage in slave fights by racist plantation owners for over 150 years, sports have consistently emerged as an inter-woven part of American society. Equally notable within sports’ social emergence throughout this time-span is the evolving intersectionality between politics, race, and sports. Racial disparity within front-office leadership, backlash for voicing political abstention from patriotic traditions, and salary inequity relating to gender are just a few of the political issues embedded in America’s extensive historic fascination with sports. It is … reasonable, and for many understandable, that the axioms of athletic struggle and social power struggle would intersect and create political theater in the U.S. Throughout the history of the American political landscape’s evolution, there has existed a type of interconnectivity tethering race, subjugation, and notions of political progress or cultural domination to class and culture,” says Dr. Posley.
“It is my hope that grappling with the nuances of the fascinating synergy between sports and political representation and studying the role of athletics and political achievement will forge new avenues of voice among Black athletes,” he says. “You can’t discuss today’s events, the George Floyd tragedy and Black Lives Matter, without the valuable role and influence of Black athletes. To this point, Colin Kaepernick and LeBron James stand at the forefront of Black athletic social activism, and in many ways both are the face and the voice of representation from the U.S. sports world. Oppression and its far-reaching effects and continued economic disparity continue. But to be sure, Black athletes are an undeniable bridge for healing this country.”
When asked what gives him the strength to maintain this fight every day, he credits his wife DiJeana. “My wife is a very accomplished woman with an outstanding corporate career. Yet she has always put her family first. Her love and support allows me to focus on my work.”
Dr. Posley knows the road to racial and economic equality will continue to be hard. He believes a livable minimum wage, increased access to jobs, and some reparation to fill the wealth gap are needed to make the playing fields equal.
But he is not discouraged. His faith sustains him. “Love is the weapon against defeat.”
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