What Would It Take to Heal the Wounds of Racism in Chapel Hill?


Tuesday, November 17, 2009 - 2:00pm to 4:00pm


Hargraves Center, 216 N. Roberson St. Chapel Hill, NC 27516

What Would it Take to Heal the Wounds of Racism in Chapel Hill?

Justice in Action Committee Event

Tuesday, November 17, 2009, 7-9 pm, Hargraves Center

Program Goals and Objectives:

  1. Recognize how we in Chapel Hill take for granted our own biases and how that affects our behavior
  2. Challenge our comfort zone by calling attention to how racism and predudice affect us all
  3. Challenge ourselves to recognize our own perspectives and to open ourselves to the perspectives of others
  4. Identify how our differences unite and bind us together
  5. Explore ways to engage in racial healing in our community


  • Welcome, Mayor-Elect Mark Kleinschmidt (invited)
  • Introduction, Andre Wesson, Justice in Action Committee Chair
  • Panel Discussion of "What Would It Take to Heal the Wounds of Racism in Chapel HIll?" 
    Participants include:
    • Tony Asion, Executive Director, El Pueblo
    • Takiyah Baptist, Teacher, Ephesus Elementary School
    • Chris Blue, Assistant Chief, Chapel Hill Police Department
    • Jan Boxill, Director, Parr Center for Ethics
    • Augustus Cho, Mayoral Candidate 2009
    • Kevin Hicks, Chapel Hil-Carrboro NAACP
    • CJ Suitt, Coach of the Sacrificial Poets
    • Vanessa Oniboni, V-day Activist and Director of Warmikunaq
  • Community Dialogue and Question and Answer Session, Moderated by Dan Pollitt, Kenan Professor of Law Emeritus, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
  • Community "Brainstorming" Session, Facilitated by Members of the Justice in Action Committee


The Fairth and Politics Institute and The Search for Common Ground held a national racial healing workshop that addressed the question, "What would it take to heal the wounds of racisim in America?"  This question is important not only at the national level, but also at the local level.  The Justice in Action Committee chose the question, "What would it take to heal the wounds of racisim in Chapel Hill?", to help our community identify paths for racial healing and concrete strategies for reducing racism and prejudice. 

Six invited panelists will deliver a five minute prepared response to the question, " What would it take to heal the wounds of racism in Chapel Hill?".  These response will be followed by a brief intra-panel question and answer session.  Once completed, the audience will be invited to ask questions and to make contributions to the dialouge.  Throughout the discussion, Justice in Action Committee members will be recording suggestions for racial healing on large pieces of paper posted around the auditorium.  After the event, audience members will be invited to add suggestions to the pieces of paper.  The suggestion will be used in the planning of a follow-up event. 

Background Information:

The mission of the Justice in Action Committee is "To adequately and effectively reflect the Town of Chapel Hill's integrity and commitment to preserving racial, economic, and social justice within the community."  In 2008, the Committee discussed ways to re-energize and expand their work.  This is the third of a series of community events hosted by the Justice in Action Committee.  The success of the Committee's work depends upon community involvement and input.  Please share your ideas for Chapel Hill's future with us.  If you have future program ideas and/or are interested in getting involved with the Justice in Action Committee, please contact our staff liasion, Mark Bayles at mbayles@townofchapelhill.org

We want to thank those who support our events with their attendance.  You make our community a better place!

Media Contacts:

Andre Wesson, Justice in Action Committee Chair:  (919) 843-8917
Emily Kelahan, Justice in Action Institutitional Racism Sub-Committee Chair:  (919) 537-8027




I wonder if the topic of the Town Council will come up at this forum.  Since Jim Merritt lost his seat, it will be all white faces at the big table starting Deecember 7.  Are we so "post-racial" that we don't care about diversity on the Town Council anymore?  We're certainly not post-racism, so I think we have some work to do. Folks should read this for some excellent history on the topic: http://www.orangepolitics.org/2009/10/african-american-representation-on...

Ruby,I don't think Jim Merritt's failure to win re-election says anything about whether Chapel Hill citizens still care about diversity.  IMHO Jim's failure to get re-elected was a result of his relatively quiet 11 months as an appointed member of Council followed by a disappointingly-weak election campaign. I watched a number of the forums and thought that Jim did not do a very good job - an impression that was confirmed to me by a number of people.  Jim was also late in getting his signs up and, if I remember correctly, his endorsement ad had relatively few names compared to other candidates. I certainly don't view this election as indicating that Chapel Hillians are any less interested in diversity than they were 4 years ago when Bill Thorpe was elected.

I seem to recall that the PP poll showed that Merritt was only the 3rd-choice candidate among African-Americans.

I think the community will be poorly served by being all white. But I don't think that means that a minority candidate should be selected just to rectify that problem. I think that's what was done with Jim Merritt, and I just don't see that it worked to create anything more than window dressing. So the question I think we should be asking, starting immediately, is how we generate more interest among the minority communities in running for elected office. Will the VOE alone accomplish that goal? If not, what other supports/barriers need to be put in place/knocked down?I'm sorry that I won't be able to attend the Justice in Action meeting. I attended something similar in Orange County 3-4 years ago, and it was an enlightening experience.

I wish I could attend this event, but it appears to be scheduled directly against the next BoCC meeting where the waste transfer station will be addressed and that is a critical racial issue with immediate to our community.


Community Guidelines

By using this site, you agree to our community guidelines. Inappropriate or disruptive behavior will result in moderation or eviction.


Content license

By contributing to OrangePolitics, you agree to license your contributions under a Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivs 3.0 United States License.

Creative Commons License

Zircon - This is a contributing Drupal Theme
Design by WeebPal.