Leominster Forum Sunday Takes on Hard Topic: Racism
LEOMINSTER -- Until a few years ago, the Montachusett Martin Luther King Coalition mainly stuck to hosting an annual event each January in honor of its namesake.
But given the rise in hate crimes and hate speech, both locally and nationally, the group is taking a more active role in the community, said member Paul Luria.
“The last few years have been a time of great tension, particularly with the new presidential administration. I don’t think that’s any secret,” he said.
Whether it’s Rosanne Barr losing her TV show over a racist tweet, or an unarmed black man losing his life in a police shooting, the subject of race has forced its way back into the national consciousness. It’s a dialogue coalition members hope to continue Sunday afternoon with a forum at the First Church Unitarian Universalist Church titled “Wrestling with Racism: A Beginning.”
“It’s interesting because there are about seven members of the coalition right now and if you asked each of us what this is going to be, you’d get seven different answers,” said Luria. “What it is, is a forum.”
The public forum, to run from 2 to 3 p.m., will consist of a candid conversation on race moderated by retired First Church Unitarian Universalist pastor Rev. Susan Suchocki Brown and retired local educator Jeff Dorsey.
The coalition hosted similar events in 2015 and 2016.
To get the conversation going, Luria said guests will be given slips of paper and asked to write down an act of racism they have witnessed in their lifetime.
These papers can be written anonymously, and if a guest can’t think of a time they witnessed racism they can just describe something that would be racist, though Luria said he doesn’t think people will have a hard time of remembering examples.
While some experiences will likely be more overt cases of racism, Luria said he expects the forum will explore more subtle instances that many people probably wouldn’t even be conscious of.
“One of the toughest things about our world today is not knowing what you can say and what you can’t say,” said Luria. “People don’t know the rules anymore. That’s the problem.”
Follow Peter Jasinski on Twitter @PeterJasinski53