William McKee, a senior fellow at Phelps Stokes, says the healing sessions were essentially opportunities for people on the frontlines in the crusade against racism to find relief and support. "The people out here in society doing the healing, needed healing themselves," he says. "When people started sharing from their own private, secret points of pain, one could not have predicted what we would hear. It was truly life-changing information."
For instance, McKee said that an African American from Michigan told about visiting relatives in the South years ago, and witnessing first hand people frozen with fear, and the lasting impact of Jim Crow and the discrimination they faced. "After that experience, he dedicated his life to fighting for equality and justice for all people," McKee says. "The experiences from our white brothers and sisters were quite interesting as well. Those experiences bordered on guilt. They cited things like hearing family members and peers recycle and reinvent forms of hate, and it propelled them to be on the right side of history. It was a mutual exchange that was very fascinating and moving."
What transpired at the session will spur McKee forward. "It will edify my work," he says. "Like any support group, it was a vivid reminder that I am not in this fight alone and that my point of entry was similar to others in this work. I leave this conference ready to retool, reboot and reset and keep the fight going."