Community Connections: Improving Race Relations in the U.S. – Sept. 1

Elon University and the (Burlington, N.C.) Times-News will hold a panel discussion on Improving Race Relations in America on Sept. 1 from 7-8:15 p.m. in McKinnon Hall of the Moseley Center.

Improving Race Relations in the United States will be the theme for the first iteration of the “Community Connections” campus programs taking place during the 2015-16 academic year. Community Connections in a partnership between Elon University and the Times-News of Burlington, N.C.

“Many members of the Alamance County and Elon University community have expressed a desire for a civil, authentic conversation about the ways to understand and improve race relations in the United States,” said Assistant Professor Jason Husser, Faculty Fellow for Civic Engagement and moderator of the series. “We intend to offer a series of forums for people to have the opportunity to share their perspectives. We are operating under the understanding that groups have a great deal to gain from learning from each other. We want to hear the experiences of our community members.” 

Madison Taylor, editor of the Times-News, wrote in a recent column: “Last month we decided our first forum topic would be Race Relations. But after a few minutes of discussion on Monday, we quickly determined that a single one-hour forum would hardly be enough to cover such a complex subject and quickly decided to make Race Relations the theme for all of our forums this coming school year. This offers a great opportunity for a running discussion about what is arguably the most important issue in America today.” 

The discussion takes place from 7-8:15 p.m. on Tuesday, September 1, in McKinnon Hall inside the university’s Moseley Center. The event is free and open to the public.

The four panelists will provide broad perspectives about race relations and encourage a conversation with the audience.

  • Jim Bissett, Professor of History, Elon University

  • Barrett Brown, President, NAACP of Alamance County

  • Patrice Fields, Pastor, St. Matthew’s AME Church

  • Anthony “Tony” Foriest, Retired State Senator and Business Executive

Community Connections forums take on a lively format. They consist in large part of a well-informed panel having an open conversation with audience members.

The goal of Community Connections forums is to create thoughtful dialog with members of the university community as well as those who in live in Alamance County and the surrounding area. Previous forums have explored issues surrounding on domestic violence, hunger, downtown revitalization, health care, gun violence and education.

“I am delighted that we are focusing community connections on the very important topic of race relations in the United States,” said Associate Provost Brooke Barnett. “I look forward to joining other community members to work to identity what divides us, find our commonalities and rich divergent perspectives and strive to better understand each other’s lives.”

As Barnett and Randy Williams, Elon University’s Presidential Fellow and Dean of Mulitcultural Affairs, wrote in a related Times-News column, “It can be uncomfortable to talk about race, but it’s more important that we not lose our way. We hope you join us in starting these conversations that can change attitudes and injustices.”