Racial-justice talk set for Wednesday

Racial-justice talk set for Wednesday

CHAMPAIGN — Educators, historians and community activists will gather on the University of Illinois campus Wednesday to discuss racial-justice issues on campus, in Champaign-Urbana and beyond.

The event, called "A Freedom Forum," will be from 7 to 9 p.m. Wednesday at the Krannert Art Museum, 500 E. Peabody Drive, C. It's hosted by the UI Department of African American Studies and is open to everyone, including students, teachers and area residents.

The event will be moderated by Erik McDuffie, professor of African American Studies at the UI, and WBCP 1580 AM radio personality Imani Bazzell.

In recent months, following George Zimmerman's acquittal on charges of second-degree murder and manslaughter in the death of black teenager Trayvon Martin in Florida, there have been vigils, protests and other organized events around the country, McDuffie said. He sees Wednesday's event as building on the "momentum and frustration" that came out of Martin's death and the Zimmerman case.

"What we want to do is create a space where we can have some real critical conversations about the 1963 March on Washington ... about the Travyon Martin case, about mass incarceration" and other racial-justice issues, he said.

"We want to provide the campus and the community with an opportunity to think hard and not only talk, but to try to come out of this with some concrete steps to address racial-justice issues on campus and in the Champaign-Urbana community," he said.

Speakers include Sundiata Keita Cha-Jua, professor in history and African American Studies; Champaign County Board member and Illinois House of Representatives candidate Carol Ammons; UI scholar Nicole Anderson-Cobb; Keeanga Taylor, a postdoctoral researcher in African American Studies at the UI; and Ken Salo from the UI's Department of Urban and Regional Planning.

Among the questions to be considered: "What does it mean that we live in a society where racism is still very much present, but it's both hyper-visible and hyper-invisible? What does it mean that this is the 150th anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation and Marissa Alexander, an African-American woman who fired warning shots in the air to protect herself from her husband who has a history of domestic violence, and she is arrested and charged and receives a 20-year prison sentence? ... And we want to understand all these events in the context of global social unrest," McDuffie said.

Information is available by visiting http://www.afro.illinois.edu or calling 333-7781.

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