On Thurs., June 25, 2020, WKKF convened a much-needed, virtual space for reflecting on the past, grieving over lives lost and sharing ways to pursue racial healing and transformative action. Joined by host Baratunde Thurston and a powerful group of activists and advocates, Healing in Action sought to acknowledge the pain and grief following the deaths of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor and to inspire positive action to commit to racial healing, racial equity and ending racism together.
Available on YouTube, the event featured WKKF President and CEO La June Montgomery Tabron and Board Chair Dr. Celeste A. Clark offering their thoughts on how people around the nation can come together to “grieve, heal and end racism together.”
“As painful as this time can feel for us as individuals, facing the painful truths is bringing us together, and that is what inspires me,” said Tabron. We have the chance to leverage this energy toward change—to take the righteous fury and determination we see in every call for leadership and channel it into positive action.”
Clark highlighted that “Racial healing is at the heart of racial equity.” She shared how in 2007, the foundation first identified racial equity as a critical component of its work on behalf of children. She added that since then, WKKF staff and partners have been very intentional about identifying and addressing the effects of racism in both internal practices and external focus areas. The leadership of the board in this effort “set the tone from the top and was crucial in moving from talk to measurable action,” she said.
More than a dozen speakers and performers contributed videos to the event, including Bryan Stevenson, Dr. David R. Williams, Diane Wolk-Rogers, Henry Kravis, Isabel Delgado, Jerry Tello, John Legend, Keedron Bryant, Linda Sarsour, Mitch Landrieu, Kathy Ko Chin, Michelle Alexander, Rev. Alvin Herring and Sunni Patterson.
Insights from several speakers include:
- Diane Wolk-Rogers, a history teacher in Parkland, Fla., said that not unlike the aftermath of the 2018 shooting attack at her school, Marjorie Stoneman Douglas High School, COVID-19 has presented a “teachable moment” for educators to create more empathetic and inclusive spaces for students through curricula that better reflect their needs and values as they learn resilience in the face of contemporary issues such as racism.
- Bryan Stevenson, executive director of the Equal Justice Initiative, said that racial healing is only possible when leaders acknowledge that racism is not a bug, but a feature of U.S. institutions from their inception. Slavery, considered one of the country’s original sins, has evolved into today’s prison industrial complex, he said, and the mass incarceration that disproportionately affects people of color.
- Dr. David R. Williams noted that the persisting wealth and education gaps between white people and people of color contribute to the health inequities that are making poor black and brown people more susceptible to contracting and dying from COVID-19.