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Forum to continue civil rights discussion

POSTED: August 24, 2013 11:55 p.m.

Fifty years ago, it seemed like it was only a dream.

Today, Martin Luther King Jr.’s dream is now a reality, though some caution there still are changes to be made.

To commemorate the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington, The Times and Brenau University are serving as host to a dialogue about civil rights, beginning at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday in Brenau’s Hosch Theatre at the John S. Burd Center.

“When it comes to discussions of race and diversity, too often the voices that are heard are those from the extremes,” Times Publisher Dennis Stockton said. “We thought the 50th anniversary of the ‘I Have A Dream’ speech offered the perfect opportunity for an honest, civil dialogue on the issues as they affect our community here at home.

“We hope the public will join our very diverse panel as we talk about how things are, how they’ve improved and how we can make things better still,” he added.

Brenau political science professor Heather Casey Holliman will serve as moderator for the event.

Panelists will include Hall County Public Defender Travis Williams; former Hall commissioner Deborah Mack; Gainesville High School senior Diana Vela; Bill Coates, senior pastor at First Baptist Church of Gainesville; and Brenau University President Ed Schrader.

Luis Santos-Rivas is also on the panel. Along with Mack, he is a member of Vision 2030 with the Hall County Chamber of Commerce. He said he will bring a Hispanic perspective to the panel.

“It’s going to be 50 years of the civil rights, and basically the dream for many people has not been achieved, just to say so,” Santos-Rivas said. “People believe that what Martin Luther King was talking about was just for African-Americans, and it’s not.”

He said there “are a lot of things to do” to gain equality for the Hispanic community in this country.

The civil rights conversation will serve as way to look back on the significance of the March on Washington, as well as a way to look forward.

“It is amazing how quickly public memory fades of historic events and outstanding personal sacrifice,” Schrader said. “Certainly, the personal sacrifice and culture-changing commitment to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. must be commemorated and remembered.

“Brenau University is happy to aid in this effort,” Schrader added.

“We’re glad to be able to partner with Brenau on what we hope will be a very educational and enlightening community conversation that can serve as a blueprint for similar programs on other topics in the future,” Stockton said.

The event is free and also will be broadcast on The Voice of Brenau, WBCX 89.1.


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