Since he arrived in Lexington about four years ago, Adam Banks has been trying to get people to have open conversations on a variety of topics.
In those community conversations, he has tried to enhance our appreciation of social media, and he has held study groups about books that invite us to change the way we view folks we've learned about in history.
Now, the topic of his conversation is "A Celebration of Black Women Preachers." Surely that will be a magnet that will draw diverse thought to a common table for an intellectual discussion.
"I've been wanting to do something to spotlight women preachers for a long time," said Banks, an associate professor of writing, rhetoric and digital media at the University of Kentucky.
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"You can't talk about black activism and the civil rights movement without talking about the role women played in those movements," he said.
In black churches, an overwhelming majority of the congregants are women. Yet an overwhelming majority of those who stand behind the pulpit are men.
It is not because black women didn't want to lead or didn't want to preach. Much of the time, they were and often still are discouraged from seeking those roles, by men and women who say the Bible is lukewarm toward, if not opposed to, female preachers.
In one article, "Tempered radicals: black women's leadership in the church and community," published in the Journal of Pan-African Studies in 2012, that phenomena is termed the "stained-glass ceiling."
Women are generally accepted as exhorters and evangelists and even Biblical teachers, but the pulpit is reserved for men.
Still, according to Daughters of Thunder by Bettye Collier-Thomas, the book published in 1998 that will be used in Banks' community discussion, black women have been preaching for more than a century.
The book is a collection of 38 sermons by 14 black women from the 19th and 20th centuries. Collier-Thomas found in 20 years of searching. None of them had ever been published before.
Well-known and unknown alike, the female preachers covered topics including racism, poverty and injustice.
Collier-Thomas noted that Elizabeth, who was born a slave in 1766, was the earliest known black female preacher. After being freed in 1796, she traveled through Southern states, often challenged and threatened during the 60 years she preached.
Some denominations since then have become more welcoming, but some have not.
During the community course, folks "will learn there is a history of black women preachers" from the previous two centuries. "And they will learn about some of the preaching women in our own midst," Banks said.
The free eight-week course is not meant to persuade people to join one side or the other, he said. It is simply meant to start the discussion.
Banks was recently named the 2014 rhetorician of the year at the Young Rhetoricians' Conference for being an influential leader in English studies.
Born in Cleveland, he is the author of Race, Rhetoric and Technology: Searching for Higher Ground, and Digital Griots: African American Rhetoric in a Multimedia Age.
He taught at Syracuse University for six years before coming to UK in 2010. He held community conversations in Syracuse, and he is scheduled to hold conversations about black female preachers in Cleveland on Saturdays for eight weeks.
"I see this as intellectual work, and it is activist work," Banks said. "When you do this kind of work, you never know what change may occur. Change is a funny thing."
Regardless of how the conversation will affect them, people need to come to listen, discuss and learn.
"You asked me what would be my last pitch," Banks said. "It would be to tell the menfolk not to be scared."
And neither should women.