Peace Be Still: Rev. James Cleveland and The Paradox of Peace in the Modern Civil Rights Movement

Johari Jabir, PhD

Rev. James Cleveland was a singer, pianist, composer, conductor, preacher, pastor, entrepreneur, and founder of the Gospel Music Workshop (GMWA). Cleveland’s 1963 release, “Peace Be Still” is a song about peace but it is not a peaceful song. My talk will use this paradox and its Civil Rights context to historicize the queerness in Black working class religious culture. Popular memory of Rev. Cleveland is mired in the public secret of his sexuality. Yet, Cleveland’s legacy is larger than his identity as it offers to us lessons of accompaniment, and a sankofa spirituality in the service of social medicine.

This event is free and open to the public; reception will follow Dr. Jabir’s lecture.