Fairfield University to host community forum on National Dialogue on Race Day


Image: Kelley CenterOn Thursday, September 12, Fairfield University will host a community forum to mark the first annual National Dialogue on Race Day, joining Tufts, Duke and other universities in addressing some of the most timely issues of our day. The public is welcome to join Fairfield students, faculty and staff, students from Fairfield College Preparatory School and Bridgeport high schools and community activists in this open, honest conversation beginning at 7 p.m. in the Aloysius P. Kelley, S.J. Center Presentation Room. A small reception will precede the dialogue.

Coming on the heels of the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington, the National Dialogue on Race Day (NDRD) is driven by recent events - from the Supreme Court's controversial rulings on the Voting Rights Act and Affirmative Action, to Trayvon Martin and the post-verdict civil rights demonstrations that have captured the attention of the nation and led to spirited conversations about race. The George Zimmerman verdict, for example, compelled President Barack Obama to issue his own heartfelt assessment of the verdict and the problem of race in America. Fairfield's event, entitled "Where Do You Stand: A Dialogue on Race and Race Relations," will be an opportunity for the University and the wider community to dialogue about issues of race and justice.

"We hope that the dialogue will be the beginning of a much longer conversation about race and social justice in the 21st century at Fairfield," said Yohuru Williams, Ph.D., professor of history and chair of Black Studies, who is one of the event organizers.

The University dialogue will focus on two of the three themes proposed by Center for the Study of Race and Democracy (CSRD) at Tufts University, the national sponsor of the NDRD. They are:

  • 50 Years after the March On Washington for Jobs and Freedom: How Far Have We Progressed as a Nation in Achieving Dr. King's Dream of Multicultural and Multiracial Democracy
  • Race and Democracy in the 21st Century: What Does Racial Integration, Justice, and Equality Mean in Contemporary America and How Can We Shape and Impact This Dialogue in Our Respective Communities, Nationally and Globally?

Participants will take part in facilitated discussions, where they can consider how they experienced the key race-related events of the past summer, how they feel about the future of race relations in America and how they personally fit into the puzzle.

Several other institutions will hold NDRD events, including UCLA and Duke and Arizona State universities. The CSRD is encouraging community groups, places of worship, and other organizations to organize panel discussions and symposia around the issues in their communities and on social media.

"The larger community's involvement with the Fairfield University community is crucial, as it presents an opportunity for teaching and learning," said organizer Carolyn Vermont, immediate past president of the NAACP, Bridgeport branch, who holds a bachelor's and a master's degree from Fairfield. "Race relations affects all of us in one way or another. NDRD is an opportunity to start the healing process. Many people are still grieving from the race-related incidents this year."

Bookmark and Share

Media Contact: Meredith Guinness, (203) 254-4000, ext. 2950, mguinness@fairfield.edu

Posted on September 6, 2013

Vol. 46, No. 36