Oct. 23, 2003
Vol. 23 No. 3

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    Historic election, race relations focus of symposium

    By William Harms
    News Office

    The Center for the Study of Race, Politics and Culture will hold a two-day symposium to commemorate the 20th anniversary of the election of Harold Washington as the first African-American mayor of the city of Chicago.

    The event begins with a reception and discussion from 5:30 to 8 p.m. Friday, Oct. 24, at the Chicago Historical Society, 1601 N. Clark St. The symposium continues with sessions from 8:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 25, in the Assembly Hall at International House, 1414 E. 58th St.

    “While the election of Mayor Washington was a historic moment for black, Latino and progressive forces both locally and nationally, our interests lie in exploring the current racial-political climate of our city and the nation,” said Cathy Cohen, Professor in Political Science and Director of the Center for the Study of Race, Politics and Culture.

    With the approaching presidential election, “discussions around politics in communities of color become more critical,” said Cohen. “We at the center believe there is a need for informed deliberation about the state of contemporary racial politics. This symposium will facilitate such discussions, exploring the changing landscape of racial politics since the election of Harold Washington in 1983,” she added.

    On Friday, Oct. 24, a reception and viewing of a new exhibition honoring Washington, “Harold Washington: The Man and the Movement,” will begin at 5:30 p.m., followed by a roundtable discussion at 6:30 p.m. on the changing state of race and politics since Washington’s election.

    Discussants will be Congressman John Conyers, a long-time Washington supporter and a founding member of the Congressional Black Caucus; Leon Dash, a journalist and the author of Rosa Lee; Jeff Epton, the son of Bernard Epton, Washington’s 1983 opponent; Akiba Solomon, an editor-at-large for The Source; and Mar’a de los Angeles Torres, associate professor of political science at DePaul University, and former executive director of the Commission on Latino Affairs.

    The conference will offer on Saturday, Oct. 25, four hour-long roundtable discussions on the topics: “Movement Politics and the Role of Grassroots Organizations,” “Multiracial Organizing: Past Experience, Future Possibilities;” “Race, Politics and Youth Organizing;” and “Race, Politics and Power in Chicago Today.”

    More information is available at (773) 702-8063 or csrpc@uchicago.edu.