Awareness of Racism Sparks a Conversation in Downtown Akron
A public discussion called “It’s Time to Talk: Forums on Race” drew a sell-out crowd at Quaker Square in Akron Wednesday. It also involved the revival of a meeting format long used by Native Americans to assure democratic group conversations.
Three hundred and fifty local leaders and citizens took seats in small groups at round tables. And, as with many ancient tribal meetings where a talking stick or similar object passed in turn to each, who then spoke his or her mind, each table at the Akron meeting had a bracelet-like “talking circle” of buckeyes strung on a cord.
Attendees Jacqueline Debose and Lenda Smith say that worked. “I really like the passing of the circle because it really gave everybody an equal opportunity to speak.” “And from that we were than able to think about how we can contribute to making a difference in our community.”
The event’s keynote speaker was retired Cuyahoga Community College President Jerry Sue Thornton. She said the forums help to begin a search for solutions by fostering self-awareness regarding racism.
“We begin to view the world through a different lens. We can turn the dial. We can have not only the conversations with each other, but we can have those tough conversations with ourselves.”
Organizers say with the sellout response to this first Forums event in Akron, they’ll likely sponsor several more in the area this year.