Florida State University

College of Social Sciences & Public Policy

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New Askew School Initiative Presents Racism Discussion Series

The 1923 Rosewood Massacre, in which a peaceful African American community was attacked and destroyed by a white mob, is one of the topics in the upcoming series.

The newly established Social Justice and Innovation Lab within the college’s Askew School of Public Administration and Policy is teaming with a community organization to present a series of educational programs focusing on multiple perspectives on racial issues.

“Engaging with Racism: Conversations for Change” is co-sponsored by the Tallahassee Chan Center.

The series will present a biweekly talk of approximately one hour followed by a Q&A session. The following week will feature a discussion on the previous week’s topic. All sessions will occur online.

The inaugural session takes place Tuesday, September 15 from 7:30 to 9:00 p.m. Jamila Holcomb, teaching faculty in the FSU Department of Family and Child Sciences, will speak on “Racial Trauma and Its Impact on the Black Community.” Open discussion of the topic will take place Tuesday, September 22, at 7:30 p.m.

The event is free and open to the public. Participants can register at this link. Zoom access information will be sent to those who register.

Frances Berry, Eminent Scholar Chair in the Askew School and one of the event organizers, said the series will cover a range of topics, including U.S. history, black literature and arts, gender inequalities, economic disparities, intergenerational cultural perspectives on racism, and racism in health and educational systems.

“We will start off exploring the many disparities in our communities, both historically and today,” she said. “Then we’ll continue the series with talks on individual and community healing.”

This is the inaugural series project of the Social Justice and Innovation Lab, established this summer.

The Lab is designed to serve as a forum for discussing issues, developing project proposals, sharing presentations and critiques and bringing together diverse perspectives about how to move justice issues forward.

According to Lab Co-Chairs and Askew faculty members Daniel Fay and James E. Wright II, the goal is to direct these collective efforts toward developing action research proposals that students could carry out as master’s or doctoral theses.

The aim of the initiative, however, is not exclusively academic or limited to Askew faculty and students.

“We expect to engage community leaders in dialogue so that our actions would be in concert with their priorities and so that we can establish collaborative working relationships that will endure over time,” Fay said. “We want to reach out to the broader community, including our colleagues at FAMU and TCC, leadership in the city and county government, law enforcement, nonprofits, the faith-based community, local organizers and other community action groups as appropriate for specific projects and efforts.”

That’s exactly what’s happening with the “Engaging Racism” series, which began as a collaboration between Berry, who is president of the Chan Buddhist Center, and Jimmy Yu, the founding teacher of the Chan Center and associate professor of Buddhist studies in the FSU Department of Religion. Berry and Yu had been talking about a race-focused educational series since earlier this summer. When the Lab was established, their idea was a natural fit for the initiative’s aims and has expanded to include more people.

Other sessions lined up so far in the series are:

• Tuesday, September 29, 7:30-9:00 p.m.: “Slavery, Religion and American Freedom” presented by FSU Professor Emerita of Religion Amanda Porterfield; discussion to take place Tuesday, October 6, 7:30 p.m.

• Tuesday, October 13, 7:30-9:00 p.m.: “The Rosewood Incident in Florida, 1923” presented by FSU Professor of History Maxine Jones; discussion on Tuesday, October 20, 7:30 p.m.

For more information about the “Engaging Racism: Conversations for Change” series, visit the Tallahassee Chan Center.