QA con­tin­ues race re­la­tions con­ver­sa­tion

Record Observer - - Front Page - By DOUG BISHOP dbishop@kibay­

CEN­TRE­VILLE — Sun­day af­ter­noon, Aug. 28, an­other of a year-long se­ries of meet­ings to dis­cuss lo­cal racial re­la­tions was held, this time at the re­cently re­stored Ken­nard High School. The for­mer black high school of­fi­cially closed its doors in 1966, and Queen Anne’s County High School opened in the fall of 1967, bring­ing the era of le­gal­ized seg­re­ga­tion in the county’s schools to an end.

Ken­nard was orig­i­nally built dur­ing the Great De­pres­sion of the late 1930s as one of many of Pres­i­dent Franklin D. Roo­sevelt’s New Deal con­struc­tion projects. Sun­day af­ter­noon, fol­low­ing a bless­ing to the re­stored build­ing by the Rev. Terry Gaddy of Bethel AME Church in Cen­tre­ville, Ken­nard Alumni Pres­i­dent Clay­ton Wash­ing­ton of Gra­sonville wel­comed ever yone to the dis­cus­sions.

“It’s ap­pro­pri­ate that we have this meet­ing here at what was once the sym­bol of seg­re­ga­tion, but now is to be­come to­day’s sym­bol of in­clu­sion for all peo­ples. We

want ev­ery­one to use this build­ing as a com­mu­nity re­source,” Wash­ing­ton said.

The Ken­nard Alumni As­so­ci­a­tion has fundraiser for many years to make the ren­o­va­tion and restora­tion of the now Ken­nard Her­itage and Cul­tural Cen­ter a re­al­ity. The of­fi­cial ded­i­ca­tion cer­e­mony for the build­ing is planned for early 2017. While con­struc­tion ap­pears to be com­plete, the As­so­ci­a­tion is de­vel­op­ing a col­lec­tion of ar­ti­facts and plans to make part of the build­ing into a mu­seum re­flect­ing the build­ing’s his­tory as a school.

Wash­ing­ton turned the pro­gram over to event co­or­di­na­tors Eric Daniels and Lee Franklin, both mem­bers of the Queen Anne’s County Multi-Cul­tural Com­mit­tee. Franklin read the mis­sion state­ment for the event, “To en­hance racial un­der­stand­ing, aware­ness and re­spect through open con­ver­sa­tion.”

She said, “My hopes for this work are to build a com­mu­nity of good­will across races within which peo­ple re­late to each other with un­der­stand­ing, com­pas­sion, and af­fec­tion — to go beyond mere tol­er­ance to a beloved com­mu­nity. The goal then will be to iden­tify is­sues that ex­ist in our com­mu­nity re­lated to race and work co­op­er­a­tively in cre­at­ing so­lu­tions.”

Franklin also read the fa­mous in­spi­ra­tion poem, “Hu­man Fam­ily,” by the late Maya An­gelou, first read at the ded­i­ca­tion of the Dis­ney Mil­len­nium Vil­lage.

The poem be­gins, “I note the ob­vi­ous dif­fer­ences in the hu­man fam­ily ...” and wraps up with the con­clu­sion, “In mi­nor ways we dif­fer, in ma­jor we’re the same. I note the ob­vi­ous dif­fer­ences be­tween each sort and type, but we are more alike, my friends, than we are un­alike. We are more alike, my friends, than we are un­alike. We are more alike, my friends, than we are un­alike.”

Lo­cal singing group Friends of Faith, Tory Brown, Tra­maine Hines, Dana Bowser and Zi­eta Seals, har­mo­nized, singing “En­cour­age My Soul,” draw­ing rous­ing ap­plause at its con­clu­sion.

Daniels ex­plained how the dis­cus­sion ses­sion would work. There were eight cir­cu­lar ta­bles with 8 to 10 peo­ple of dif­fer­ent racial back­grounds at each. Each ta­ble was led by a dis­cus­sion fa­cil­i­ta­tor, and three ques­tions were asked for each per­son at the ta­ble to an­swer to their group.

As an ice-breaker, for the first ques­tion, each per­son was asked, “Ex­plain the his­tory of your first name? Where did the name come from?” Ques­tion 2: “How were you taught about race when grow­ing up in your fam­ily?” Ques­tion 3: “What do you hope to see as a re­sult of this dis­cus­sion event to­day?”

The dis­cus­sions and an­swers were per­sonal and in­ter­est­ing. It was clear that peo­ple were hon­est in their an­swers to ques­tions.

One woman said, “As part of a mil­i­tary fam­ily, we trav­eled around the world and na­tion. My friends were of all dif­fer­ent racial groups, de­pend­ing on where we were liv­ing at the time. My racial ex­pe­ri­ences were mostly ones of tol­er­ance, and peo­ple in gen­eral didn’t make a big deal about what race you were.”

An­other woman, who grew up lo­cally, said, “We didn’t dis­cuss race. We knew our place, and there were things we didn’t do. There were restau­rants here in the lo­cal area where we could not go in to be served and we knew it, so we went around the back of the restau­rant to place our or­der and get our food. That changed over time, but the change was very slow.”

A man in the group said, “I was taught by my par­ents to al­ways give peo­ple more than was ex­pected when in ser­vice to oth­ers. I learned that by the way my par­ents worked. My par­ents earned the re­spect of oth­ers in our com­mu­nity and when I was in­tro­duced as their son, their rep­u­ta­tion pro­ceeded as a re­flec­tion of who I must be — like my par­ents, peo­ple ex­pected me to be of the same honor­able rep­u­ta­tion, and I was im­me­di­ately ac­cepted.”

The dis­cus­sions ended with a bless­ing by Pas­tor Mark Del­cuze of Christ Epis­co­pal Church in Stevensville on the din­ner be­ing served to all who at­tended.

It was men­tioned that the county com­mis­sion­ers had pro­vided “seed funds” for monthly din­ners and dis­cus­sions.

Com­mis­sion Pres­i­dent Mark An­der­son, who at­tended a ses­sion held at the Kramer Cen­ter this past July, said, “It’s im­por­tant to get ahead of po­ten­tial sit­u­a­tions that could arise by com­mu­ni­cat­ing early with folks who are con­cerned about the fu­ture of our com­mu­nity. These meet­ings help by elim­i­nat­ing mis­un­der­stand­ings. At the first ses­sion, we had our su­per­in­ten­dent of schools, and county sher­iff present. I look for­ward to the ses­sions planned for the com­ing months to bring about bet­ter com­mu­ni­ca­tion with more peo­ple about needs we have in our county and meet­ing those needs.”

Mike Clark, direc­tor of Com­mu­nity Part­ner­ships for Chil­dren and Fam­i­lies, Queen Anne’s Lo­cal Man­age­ment Board, was in­stru­men­tal in or­ga­niz­ing the dis­cus­sions as part of the Multi-Cul­tural Com­mit­tee. Clark was also part of the move­ment many years ago bring­ing the Char­ac­ter Counts pro­gram to Queen Anne’s County schools. Fol­low­ing the tragic shoot­ings that killed many in­no­cent chil­dren in Columbine, Colorado, in 1999, lo­cal cit­i­zens wanted a pro­gram that could teach val­ues to chil­dren that would help pre­vent a sim­i­lar sit­u­a­tion from hap­pen­ing here. Clark was one of nu­mer­ous vi­sion­ary in­di­vid­u­als who rec­og­nized the po­ten­tial for a pos­i­tive pro­gram like Char­ac­ter Counts and helped with its im­ple­men­ta­tion.

The Sun­day Sup­per dis­cus­sions on in­ter-racial com­mu­ni­ca­tions have sim­i­lar po­ten­tial, he said.

“There are many peo­ple in Queen Anne’s County who are re­lent­less about im­prov­ing the com­mu­nity. They go right to the heart of is­sues and work to make im­prove­ments,” Clark said.

Lo­cal church lead­ers were in­vited to the Au­gust dis­cus­sion. The Multi-Cul­tural Com­mit­tee plans to in­vite ed­u­ca­tors across the county to join the dis­cus­sions on im­prov­ing racial re­la­tions and com­mu­ni­ca­tions in Septem­ber.


A crowd turned out for the Sun­day Sup­per dis­cus­sions on race re­la­tions in Queen Anne’s County, Sun­day af­ter­noon, Aug. 28, at the re­stored Ken­nard High School (now a com­mu­nity re­source and cul­tural cen­ter) in Cen­tre­ville. In the fore­ground, the au­di­ence was en­ter­tained by Faith of Friends, from the left, Dana Bowser, Zi­eta Seals, Tra­maine Hines and Tory Brown, who sang “En­cour­age My Soul” prior to the round-ta­ble dis­cus­sions.


Nu­mer­ous round-ta­ble dis­cus­sions were held in small groups with a mix of peo­ple of dif­fer­ent racial iden­ti­ties, Sun­day af­ter­noon, Aug. 28, dur­ing the Sun­day Sup­per ses­sion on race re­la­tions in Queen Anne’s County.


The group Friends of Faith, from the left, Dana Bowser, Zi­eta Seals, Tra­maine Hines and Tory Brown, sing “En­cour­age My Soul” prior to round-ta­ble dis­cus­sions on race re­la­tions in Queen Anne’s County dur­ing the Sun­day Sup­per pro­gram, Sun­day af­ter­noon, Aug. 28, in­side the re­stored Ken­nard High School in Cen­tre­ville.

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