CLEVELAND, Ohio (WOIO) - The year 2019 marks the 400th anniversary of Africans being brought to America and being made slaves.
To commemorate that and to talk about the still lingering effects of this negative history, there is going to be a yearlong set of events called “Project 400” to teach people about this country’s past and how it affects us today.
Dr. Ronnie Dunn is the Interim Director of Diversity and Inclusion at Cleveland State University. He was a guest on CW 43 Focus this week and this is part of his message to viewers.
“When you look at the conditions in the African-American community, the disproportionate rate of incarceration, the high health disparities, the low employment rates, you name it, on most social indicators of wellness and outcomes, African-Americans rank near the bottom and a lot of that is due to the residual effects of structural racism.”
Another guest on CW 43 Focus was Dr. Thomas Bynum, the Director of Black Studies at Cleveland State University. He talks about how some people deny the vestiges of slavery and racism by saying their ancestors didn’t own slaves and they don’t see how they could be held accountable for the effects of that negative history.
“There are privileges associated with being white in this country and we have to take that under consideration. Privileges that have been denied to people of color.”
Again, Dr. Dunn of CSU:
“Our nation is still suffering from the vestiges of that experience of slavery. This 400-year commemoration is meant to take a look at that history and unpack it and all of its ramifications that stem from that many of which we’re still suffering under today.”
Dr. Bynum said the public is invited to the event featuring Dr. Henry Louis Gates, a Alphonse Fletcher University Professor and Director of Hutchins Center for African and African American research at Harvard University.
It’s taking place on Friday, Sept. 27 and Saturday, Sept. 28 at CSU’s Wolstein Center.
Dr. Bynum said, “I often say to students, you can’t just think of racism as an individual act of discrimination. Racism is more than that. Racism is embedded in policy, embedded in practices. It’s institutionalized and that’s what we’re dealing with today.”
Both professors talked more about Project 400: Our Lived Experience, which in their news release, said will present a series of events that examine slavery’s foundational significance to the historic and contemporary challenges faced by African-Americans by acknowledging the obstacles that have been overcome while highlighting those that still remain.