Rinku Sen, president and executive director of the Applied Research Center (ARC), stood before attendees to the 2012 Facing Race conference in Baltimore, Md. as she delivered her welcoming remarks. “[The Facing Race] conference is about defining justice and making change.”
Sen’s inspiring speech would later touch on how the alliances between communities of color are gaining strength and speed, as evidenced by the 2012 election, and how we must use these alliances to work towards meaningful change.
The three-day conference in November brought together more than 1,400 thought leaders, educators, students, journalists, artists and activists who advocate for racial justice across America. As it marked its 30th anniversary as an organization committed to racial equity, ARC reviewed key racial justice victories from the past 30 years and used the gathering to help set an ambitious trajectory for the future.
Attendees participated in educational sessions and workshops addressing topics such as the landmark 2012 election, which will appoint a record number of women and minorities to office. For Democrats in the House of Representatives, women and minorities will outnumber white males for the first time in U.S. history. Other hot topics included the economy, education reform, multiracial organizing, immigrant rights and the development of racial justice leadership and training models.
Participants had the opportunity to listen to Freedom Riders Lenora Tait-Magubane and Moses Newson reflect on the impact of their historic rides across Alabama and their unforgettable meetings with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. The Freedom Riders highlighted the parallels of their civil rights movement with today’s DREAMers who are advocating for the passage of the DREAM Act, a legislative proposal that would provide a pathway to citizenship for millions of undocumented youth. The common theme of the two movements: youth involvement and activism.
Pulitzer Prize winner Junot Diaz also provided a vibrant keynote address discussing the complexity of race within his own family, how early experiences with racism influenced his writing and why it is crucial for Americans to come together to address racial inequities. His overarching message was that “we need to take possessive investments in our other communities’ struggle.”
Every other year, Facing Race brings together hundreds of leaders from across the country who are committed to bringing racial equity and justice for all. As an America Healing grantee, ARC is supported by the W.K. Kellogg Foundation.