Community leaders hold race relations forum in Hagerstown

Maryland

The African American History Alive Association in partnership with the Robert Johnson Community Center in Hagerstown held a forum about race relations for the first time on Saturday. 

Dozens of people gathered to listen to the forum at the community center.

“It doesn’t do any good to complain and hoop and holler if you’re not registered to vote,” said Arnold Hence.  

Hence came all the way from Inwood, West Virginia. He says it’s never too late to encourage young people to vote and know that their voice matters. The panel included local elected officials as well as community members. 

“It’s as if I had a speed bump in my consciousness that I didn’t have before. I now get things a little clearer about my own privileges as a white person,” said Anne Weatherholt, Rector at St. Mark’s Episcopal Church.

The frank discussion included how to get more people involved in the decision making processes that affect Washington County and how to get those in power to make decisions for those among different backgrounds. While Reverend Joseph Chandler says the changing times and technology is making it hard for people to connect, having a deeper understanding of race in the community and around us is a step towards active change. 

“No matter where you go, you have a cell phone on your hand,” he said. “It’s more so, it’s in your face now and we have to take action to deal with  the situation as it is being presented so that our children are not contaminated with some of the episodes that we are seeing on a daily basis.” 

They say having a deeper understanding of race in the community and around us is definitely a step towards active change. 

“I think things are getting better, but we do have innate fear sometimes that stand in the way and that to me is something we all need to take responsibility for,” Weatherholt said.

“I think we are taking notice of what’s going on in the greater world, especially in the United States and saying not here, not us, not in our community,” Sakima Romero-Chandler, Reverend at Family Life Ministry AME Church said.  

Organizers are already planning another, similar forum for next year. 

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