NEC Member Tufts University recently held a forum to discuss the issues of race and democracy, sponsored by the University’s new Center for the Study of Race and Democracy. A diverse audience of some 300 people attended the event, offering varying views, sometimes turning the discussion into a debate, on the issues at hand. The University hopes to make this an annual event that provides a substantive and important dialogue on the role of race in our society and democratic process.
The event started with a panel of activists and academics sharing their thoughts of the 1963 March on Washington that revolutionized the discussion of race in America and led to the passage of the Civil Rights Act, the Voting Rights Act, and many other pieces of legislation and executive orders that improved the lives of countless citizens and made our democracy stronger. Following the discussion, to the panel took questions from the audience on a range of issues, including affordable housing, poverty, police brutality, mandatory minimum sentences and many other issues.. Some solutions that were mentioned included making the criminal justice system more reflective of the population it serves, creating more opportunity for understanding from shared experiences and the importance of coalition building between marginalized groups so they can work together to achieve common goals.
“This is how democracy looks,” Peniel Joseph, a Tufts history professor and the center’s founding director, told the crowd in the room. “Dialogue is power. This is a conversation that needs to be happening all across America, and it’s a conversation that we will link to public policy and substantive legislation.”
New England Council applauds Tufts University for holding a forum on this important issue and wishes the new Center for the Study of Race and Democracy continued success.