Like any national tragedy, we all remember where we were the evening of June 17, 2015. We recall snippets, viscerally — flashing lights, confused tweets, calls from family members, “Are you OK?”
We were shaken but OK, the unaffected, the bystanders, the witnesses. Charleston was not OK, though, not by a long shot. After Dylann Roof murdered nine parishioners at Emanuel AME Church there was the symbolic coming together, the Ravenel Bridge filled with tear-stained black and white faces, the praise from other cities. But when the national outlets started to pack up their cameras, and the temporarily forged camaraderie faded away, things returned to normal, with so much left to say.
The second annual Charleston Forum, to be held at the Charleston Music Hall Thurs. June 21 at 7:30 p.m., wants to discuss the uncomfortable topics that we’ve perhaps laid to the side, or buried beneath polite formalities these last few years. They want to continue the dialogue that was begun after that horrific night.
“The Charleston Forum is proud to foster an open and honest discussion for our community to address pressing issues defined at least in part by race,” said Charleston Forum Committee Chair Brian Duffy in a press release. “We think community involvement is essential to developing the best solutions, starting with responses from experts in the fields of education and economics. We also are partnering with local organizations which have developed the infrastructure for implementing the proposals the Forum develops. We are developing this network of Action Partners to provide an avenue for members of our audience at the June 21st event and online who are engaged and interested in rolling up their sleeves.”
The 2018 Charleston Forum speaker line-up is comprised of a dozen leaders from local entities like the Charleston County School District to national organizations like Google and CNN. There will be two panel discussions focused on disparities in education and economics.
The speaker lineup includes: CCSD Deputy Superintendent of Learning Services Cindy Ambrose, Executive Director of S.C. Appleseed Legal Justice Center Sue Berkowitz, Thurgood Marshall College Fund Senior Director of Strategic Communications Paris Dennard, Coastal Community Foundation President and CEO Darrin Goss, Google Southeast Public Affairs Lilyn Hester, Citadel Assistant Provost for Leadership Faith Rivers James, CEO/President of the International African American Museum Michael B. Moore, CEO of Tri-County Cradle to Career John Read, former educator and creator of Hate Won’t Win Alana Simmons, CNN commentator and attorney Bakari Sellers, Superintendent of Public Charter School District Elliott Smalley, and Charleston Regional Development Alliance VP of Global Competitiveness Steve Warner.
In addition to these names, the forum wants anyone from the community with a question or comment to join in the discussion, too. Members of the public are invited to submit questions by video at thecharlestonforum.com, which the moderators and panelists will address. Questions should be submitted no later than June 11.