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Forum Offers Unique Take on Race Issue

SPC Programs & Events

Student activists at Washington University in St. Louis take part in the nationwide “Hands up, walk out” protest, demanding justice for the fatal Aug. 9 shooting of 18-year-old Michael Brown. Rinku Sen argues that most young people need to better understand racism before they can start to mobilize against it. Photo by Adrees Latif/Reuters


From SPC’s Institute for Strategic Policy Solutions:

In the wake of the massacre of nine black citizens in a Charleston church Bible study class last June, anger over police treatment of black males has merged with resentment over decades of discrimination by society against African Americans.

A forum at St. Petersburg College during the upcoming Dr. Martin Luther King Week seeks to channel that outrage into a community conversation about race. The forum, titled “Race to Truth: Ten Immutable Truths About Race in America,” will pair a nationally recognized speaker and a distinguished panel to bring a local perspective to an issue that has dominated the national conversation since the killing of a young black man by police in Ferguson, Mo., in August 2014.

The dinner forum will be from 6 to 8:15 p.m. Jan. 21 at SPC’s Seminole Campus, 9200 113th St. N It is sponsored by the SPC Institute for Strategic Policy Solutions and co-sponsored by the Tampa Bay Times, WUSF Public Media, and WEDU Television. Advance registration is required.


Neil P.Phillips

The forum’s lead speaker, Neil P. Phillips, is an innovative educator, entrepreneur, and Aspen Institute Fellow. His award-winning “Race to Truth” presentation asserts that America is tired of the concept of racism because, despite centuries of trying to solve it, little real progress has been made. Racism, he says, is in need of rebranding. For the term “racism” he suggests a more appropriate concept is “worth-ism – the oldest and most persistent ‘ism’ that reveals some lives matter more than others.”

Joining Phillips in discussing this unique take on the Black Lives Matter movement that sprang from Ferguson will be Rev. Clarence Williams, Senior Pastor of Greater Mt. Zion African Methodist Episcopal Church in St. Petersburg; the Hon. Irene Sullivan, retired Sixth Circuit Court Judge and adjunct professor at Stetson College of Law, and Maria L Scruggs, President of the St. Petersburg chapter of the NAACP. Moderator will be Dr. Joyce Hamilton-Henry, Regional Development Director for ACLU Florida.

The Institute presents this frank discussion of race because, on this 87th anniversary of Dr. King’s birth and in the 48th year since his death, there is an opportunity to engage in dialogue between the African American and white communities in a more open, honest way than has been possible in decades. The consciousness-raising generated by the Charleston massacre opens a new avenue to expand understanding of race in America. More whites are receptive to the message that African American leaders have long sought to convey: that race is a constant factor in the lives of black Americans. That it generates disrespect, fear, inequality – and in far too many instances – death among blacks, especially young black males. That it is time America confronts its racist past and strives to eliminate racism in the future.

Admission to the dinner and program is $25 for the general public, $20 for students and educators. Advance registration is required at

For further information; call 727-394-6942

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