Virtual Panel Discussion Dec 2: Race Relations & Religion: The Faith Community Responds

Wednesday, December 2 at 6pm

Registration is free and open to the public. Space is limited. Visit our website to sign up. A link for the talk will be sent to registrants approximately two hours before the start of the event, and then again approximately 15 minutes before the start.

In conjunction with our current exhibit, Stories of Resilience: Encountering Racism, La Grua Center and the Jewish Federation of Eastern CT are pleased to present the third in a three-part series of panel discussions focusing on the issue of racism. The first panel, which included three local Black leaders who are featured in the exhibit, focused on growing up in the Jim Crow era. The second panel discussed the current state of race relations as viewed through the lens of another generation of community leaders. (Both discussions were recorded and can be seen on La Grua's YouTube channel). In this last panel, we talk with leaders of the faith community about how they are responding to the issue.

Panelists include Reverend Lloyd McKenzie, Jr. of the Walls Clarke Temple AME Zion Church in New London, Reverend Caroline Patierno of the Unitarian Universalist Congregation in New London, and Rabbi Jeremy Schwartz of Temple Bnai Israel in Willimantic.

Panel will be moderated by Lisa McGinley, member of The Day Editorial Board and retired deputy managing editor.

Developed as part of the Jewish Federation of Eastern Connecticut’s Encountering Differences program, a unique opportunity for students to learn about racism through the eyes of local residents, the exhibition explores segregation, the migration North, the Civil Rights Movement, systemic racism, and current acute manifestations of racism. The exhibit is an integral part of the group’s efforts to break down racial and cultural barriers and confront hatred and prejudice given the rise in racial incidents occurring locally and on school campuses.

The exhibit highlights the lives of five exceptional residents of New London County, past and present—attorney Lonnie Braxton, Rev. Florence Clarke, Sonalysts Board member Donetta Hodge, Coast Guard Commander (Ret.) Merle Smith, and 19th century freed slave and teacher Ichabod Pease. Stories of Resilience showcases their determination, bravery, and strength in the face of personal and systemic racism. The exhibit paints a picture of remarkable successes in the face of daunting obstacles through personal photographs, artifacts, and video testimonies.

Through the exhibition and related programs, viewers are encouraged to think about how they can promote change and advocacy in their communities as well as examine their own responsibilities in creating a just society.

The exhibition is supported in part by the Dominion Energy Charitable Foundation, with special thanks to the Lyman Allyn Art Museum, where the exhibit opened in February, for their assistance.