In the wake of a year of civil unrest and demands for social justice, four Cincinnati organizations are looking back at the past 20 years of race relations in the city since Timothy Thomas’s death. Cincinnati Museum Center, Cincinnati & Hamilton County Public Library, the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center and the Woman’s City Club of Cincinnati are hosting virtual panel discussions May 13 and 25 to examine how far we’ve come and how far we still have to go.
“From Riot to Protest to Civil Unrest: Conversations About Race Relations in Cincinnati” brings together academics, activists, journalists and leaders across two panels to discuss the lessons learned and forgotten and possible paths forward.
“Successive generations have all had their moments of social awakening and racial reckoning, each built on those who came before them” says Woody Keown, Jr., president & COO of the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center. “By examining our recent past and doing so through the voices of those who lived it, we can help the next generation learn from the lessons of our past and take the next step forward through understanding, empathy and action.”
Cincinnati was at the forefront of racial injustice in 2001 after the killing of Timothy Thomas by police. “20 Years Later: Race Relations in Cincinnati” brings together local leaders to share their expertise on his death and the following unrest. Panelists will also discuss where we are today and the current Black Lives Matter movement. The panel will be moderated by Dr. Joan Ferrante, professor of sociology at Northern Kentucky University, and will include Pastor Damon Lynch III, professor of African American Studies Dr. Eric Jackson, news anchor and reporter Clyde Gray and activist Yasim Southall. “20 Years Later: Race Relations in Cincinnati” will take place at 7 p.m. on Thursday, May 13. Register.
“In light of the city’s history in regard to race relations, the Library is proud to partner for this essential panel discussion. Twenty-first-century libraries like ours strive to be – and must be – pillars of equity, inclusion, diversity and democracy for the communities we serve. We hope this discussion can build on the work being done by various organizations and entities across Cincinnati to create a better community,” says Paula Brehm-Heeger, the director of the Cincinnati & Hamilton County Public Library.
Young people have been on the forefront of Black Lives Matter protests around the world, taking to the streets and the web to fight for justice and a better world. “Growing Into the Struggle for Racial Justice” brings together young leaders in Cincinnati to discuss their experiences growing up and growing into political consciousness in the wake of Timothy Thomas’s murder and the civil unrest of 2001. Andria Carter of the Cincinnati Herald will moderate that panel, and will be joined by panelists from Elementz, Pones and the University of Cincinnati’s Center for Truth, Racial Healing and Transformation. Also joining the panel are Cincinnati Public Schools students from the student-led Speak Up, Speak Out organization, as they reflect on how the events of 2001 impacted community responses to the murder of Sam Dubose in 2015 and George Floyd in 2020. “Growing Into the Struggle for Racial Justice” will begin at 7 p.m. on Tuesday, May 25. Register.
“The generation coming of age now is doing so in an era of increased public racial violence without the mental and emotional distance to grieve or process through these events,” says Elizabeth Pierce, president & CEO of Cincinnati Museum Center. “We hope that in speaking with panelists who were their age 20 years ago, they can begin to process these moments and, together, help lead us toward the racial justice that’s escaped us for too long.”
Both virtual panels are free but registration is required.