June will mark three years since nine black worshippers were gunned down during a Bible study at Emanuel AME Church in Charleston.
The organizers of the Charleston Forum hope to continue the honest conversation on race sparked in the wake of the tragedy.
“The mission of the forum is to make a lasting impact from the tragedy at Mother Emanuel and take advantage of the opportunity that provided with the incredible strength of the victims’ families,” Charleston Forum Committee chairman Brian Duffy said. “I think it really opened everyone’s eyes in a new way about just how powerful that idea of community can be and we want to make sure that’s not lost and that we create a lasting tribute to those wonderful nine people.”
The forum will meet for a second time on June 21. The 2017 event sold out at Charleston Music Hall.
“We wanted a broad group of perspective shared to discuss these issues,” Duffy said. “If people with the same ideas just talk to each other all the time, they’re not really making any progress. We want to use this opportunity to engage the entire community or at least people of good will who want to make a better community.”
Duffy said most people will not listen to what others have to say if they do not think their own opinions will be heard.
“No one is going to change his or her mind or alter his or her behavior unless they are willing to listen to another perspective on a particular issue and that they have the opportunity to share his or her perspective on that issue,” he said. “You’ve got to engage before anyone will change his or her mind.”
Organizers say they want a “robust conversation.” And although the 2017 event gathered an online following from as far away as New York, Massachusetts and California, Duffy said he wants more locally-based solutions for the 2018 event.
The forum’s leaders are asking attendees and those who cannot attend to submit videos with their opinions. The Charleston Forum website is designed to be an online forum.
“Anyone with a unique perspective, and constructive idea on how to address a problem associated with racial disparities or racial prejudices, we’re opening the mic to everyone in the community,” Duffy said. “We think everybody needs to be a part of the conversation.”