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Staff Profile: Keith Baltimore, Protestant minister

Activism and the Vincentian question

At the heart of activism lies the Vincentian question: “What must be done?” Keith Baltimore in the Office of Religious Diversity seeks to answer that question through action.

Baltimore is a chaplain and program coordinator in the Office of Religious Diversity. In that role, he focuses on counseling, mentoring and advising students of African descent and non-Catholic Christian students. He also leads the popular, year-round program for students of African descent called Sankofa, and is the staff advisor to the largest cluster of African-American student organizations at DePaul.

In addition to his formal role, he also leads or co-leads a variety of workshops, presentations and courses on social movements and student activism, overcoming oppression due to social conflicts, and black student perspectives on faith and activism. He is also the staff co-chair of DePaul’s Black Leadership Coalition, or DPUBLC, and a member of the President's Diversity Council.

Baltimore took a moment to talk about how the principle of “what must be done” and faith go hand-in-hand in his work as a university minister.

How did you come to study and teach about activism?

All of the student groups I advise are spiritually based and socially active, so activism and social justice are key aspects of their identity, work and interest. For this reason, I conduct an activism training workshop twice a year for all student groups that I advise and all my student leaders and employees.

What keeps you personally involved in activism?

I remain personally involved in part because human engagement inspires and invigorates me. Activism and social justice require progression, confrontation of issues and the healing of communities, and I tend to thrive in the role of “bridge” or leader among various and opposing communities seeking reconciliation.

How does the Office of Religious Diversity remain involved in activism?

The Office of Religious Diversity officially represents the student communities often at the center of activism and social justice issues at DePaul. We do this by prioritizing both cultural identity and spiritual/religious identity simultaneously.  For example, whenever there is an issue regarding anti-Semitism or Islamophobia, our Jewish chaplain and Muslim chaplain are leaders in supporting those particular communities and responding to the incident because their roles specifically call them to work with and create programs for those communities.

As a member of Religious Diversity, I work to do the same for students of African descent by using black spirituality and black cultural values as a tool for influencing their social justice work, as well as their personal development and evolving values.

What are your long-term goals regarding cultural competency and activism?

My goals for cultural competency and activism touch many areas. On a very basic level, I promote cultural competency and activism because I simply want people to care and have empathy for others who appear to be different from themselves. One of my goals is to decrease physical violence and systemic oppression. On a broader level, cultural competency and activism are necessary for sharing information. At DePaul, the goal of cultural competency and activism is to create a healthier work and academic environment for faculty, staff and students.

Thank you for taking a moment to speak and share your insight with us, Keith!​