College of Charleston hosts race relation forum

Source: Live 5 News
Source: Live 5 News
Published: Sep. 21, 2016 at 11:49 PM EDT|Updated: Sep. 22, 2016 at 12:30 AM EDT
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CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) - The shooting in Charlotte has once again put the spotlight on race relations in our country.

In Charleston, this has been an ongoing conversation for more than a year since the shooting death of Walter Scott and the massacre at Mother Emanuel.

Earlier Wednesday evening, dozens of people packed the College of Charleston library to talk about how to make things better.

The event was open to the public and titled "Black or White."

The unofficial theme of the forum was coming together as a community.

"We are here and we are part of this nation and we expect full access to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness," panelist and Charleston pastor Thomas Dixon said.

"Use our experiences and our strength and wisdom and create change," a panelist and retired high school guidance counselor added.

Holding yourself and your peers accountable was a topic that was constantly brought up.

"We have to drop the walls of defense and embrace the way that other people feel and what they want to tell us. When they say they have a pain, we need to embrace that," Dixon said.

"You have to look at yourself and how you make contribute to this," panelist Christopher "Poppasmurf" Cason said. "We know the history. We know what goes on here. Why not educate yourself? Why not put yourself in a position where you're more cordial to those who don't like you." Cason stressed the importance of spreading the wealth throughout the Lowcountry. "Right here, on the other side of Calhoun Street, we have multi-miillion dollar homes. And on the other side of Calhoun we have tent city. That just doesn't work."

Panelists also urged concerned citizens to elect officials to office who will better suit their beliefs, including a Charleston representative himself.

"When are you going to wake up? Your party, my party aren't right. It's the people," Charleston state representative Wendell Gilliard said. Gilliard was integral in organizing the forum.

"Until we get [the people] to the table, until we start listening to them about why they do what they do, why the engage, why they are frustrated, we're going to miss this. We have to get them to the table," Cason said.

This forum was part of a year-long series called the 2016 Race and Social Justice Event Series. There are two more similar events coming up next month. 

A Deeper Black: Race in America is at 6:30 p.m. on October 18 at the TD Arena, 301 Meeting Street.

Community Proactive Forum starts at 9 a.m. on October 22 at Berkeley Middle School, 320 N Live Oak Dive in Moncks Corner.

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