Rev. Osagyefo Uhuru Sekou was born in the rural Arkansas Delta, and raised in St. Louis, MO. He was a 2014 Visiting Scholar at Stanford University’s Martin Luther King Education and Research Institute at the time of Michael Brown Jr’s killing, and traveled to Ferguson in mid-August on behalf of the Fellowship of Reconciliation (the country’s oldest interfaith peace organization, where he is currently the inaugural Bayard Rustin Fellow) to organize alongside local and national groups and train many hundreds in non violent civil disobedience.
Reverend Sekou attended high school in St. Louis and was ordained at Friendly Temple Baptist Church, where he served as Youth Pastor between 1993-96. During the 1990’s he taught alternatives to gang violence at Steven’s Middle School and directed the Fellowship Center at the Cochran Housing Project. In May 2015, Rev. Sekou moved back to St Louis to focus on organizing against police violence, predatory court systems and economic and social injustice.
Rev. Sekou is the author of two collections of essays: ‘ urbansouls ’, a meditation on working with at-risk youth in St. Louis, hip hop and religion, ’Gods, Gays, and Guns: Essays on Religion and the Future of Democracy’, and the forthcoming ‘Riot Music: British Hip Hop, Race, and the Politics of Meaning’.
Most recently, the Rev. Sekou served as Pastor for Formation and Justice at First Baptist Church in Jamaica Plain, Boston. He was formerly Senior Pastor of Lemuel Haynes Congregational Church in Queens, served as Special Assistant on Social Justice to the Bishop for the Church of God in Christ, Senior Community Minister at New York’s Judson Memorial Church and Social Justice Minister at Middle Collegiate Church, New York. He has been Fellow-in-Residence at the Brooklyn Society for Ethical Culture, and as Ella Baker Fellow at New York Theological Seminary's Micah Institute he served as a strategist organizing clergy for economic justice in New York City.
Rev. Sekou also served on the National Political Hip Hop Convention Platform Committee and was Senior Adviser TO the 2004 Kucinich Presidential campaign. Following Hurricane Katrina, Rev. Sekou moved to New Orleans, founding the local Interfaith Worker Justice Center. In 2006, the Institute for Policy Studies appointed him as their Associate Fellow in Religion and Justice.
He is a founding national coordinator for Clergy and Laity Concerned about Iraq (CALC-I), which represented over 300 faith-based institutions and organizations working to end the war in Iraq. In 2006, CALC-I led a civil disobedience at the White House at which more than 350 people were arrested, including sixty religious leaders.
Rev. Sekou was a delegate to the World People's Conference on Climate Change and the Rights of Mother Earth in Cochabamba, Bolivia in 2010. In 2011, he received the Keeper of the Flame Award from the National Voting Rights Institute and Museum in Selma, AL, and was a member of the inaugural Dorothy Cotton Institute Palestinian/Israeli Non Violence Project’s delegation of US Civil Rights leaders to the West Bank in 2012. Reverend Sekou served as Editor as Chief of Spare Change News, the nation's oldest continuous street newspaper, from 2012 - 2013.
He has studied continental philosophy at the New School, systematic theology at Union Theological Seminary and religion at Harvard University. He has lectured widely, including at Princeton University, Harvard Divinity School, the University of Virginia, University of Paris IV - La Sorbonne and Vanderbilt University, and is a Professor of Preaching in the Graduate Theological Urban Studies Program at the Seminary Consortium of Urban Pastoral Education, Chicago, IL.
Rev. Sekou was arrested multiple times during the Ferguson Uprising, including for ‘Praying while Black’ outside the Ferguson Police Department in September, alongside over 40 clergy, faith leaders and community members during the 500-strong Moral Monday protest during last year’s Ferguson October convergence, and, more recently, on Moral Monday 2015, as part of more than 50 people now facing Federal charges following a sit-in at the Department of Justice. In February 2016, Rev. Sekou stood trial for his first arrest in Ferguson and was found not guilty.
He has written widely on the 2011 killing of Mark Duggan by British police and the subsequent London riots, and is the author of the forthcoming ‘Riot Music: British Hip Hop, Race, and the Politics of Meaning’ (Hamilton Books). The indomitable Dr Cornel West has lauded him as a leader of his generation, saying “Reverend Sekou is one of the most courageous and prophetic voices of our time.”
Rev. Sekou met San Francisco Bay Area singer-songwriter-instrumentalist Jay-Marie Hill in the streets of Cleveland following last year’s Movement for Black Lives gathering when police arbitrarily pepper-sprayed a crowd demanding the release of an illegally detained 14-year-old boy. Unexpectedly reuniting just weeks later in Oakland, California they penned “The Revolution Has Come” in less than a week. The sound of Rev. Sekou & the Holy Ghost is a symphony of gospel, blues, soul, funk and freedom songs laced with sanctified blues and lyrics that range from religious to risqué.