Local News

Special Task Force Wants To Create Center To Fight Racism

Posted October 3, 2000

— A task force hopes a new center can bring an end to a centuries-old problem. They want to end racism through education, however, many question whether a building and an academic approach to racism can bring any real answers.

James Montague developed a string of businesses in southeast Raleigh next to the Martin Luther King Gardens. The park inspires visitors with memories of the man who died fighting racism.

A few miles away, the Race Initiative Task Force discusses building a Martin Luther King Center -- a place for academic research aimed at finding solutions to racism.

"Anything that tries to help the relationship between the races is good," Montague says. "If the people who are talking are really sincere, then it will be positive."

John Hope Franklin, is chairman of the President's Commission on Race, which is promoted as a national conversation on the racial divide. His advice to task force members: create a center that will find support beyond the minority community.

"I hope it will become an organization that is as important and critical to white people as it is for minorities," he says. "We will be focusing on the problems of the past, the present and the future."

Another challenge for the task force is to convince the public that their mission is not just talk.

"I can study a piece of paper all day, but I'm still stuck studying. It's action," says resident Lorenzo Smith.

For others, just talking is a positive step.

"Accepting each other as human beings instead of looking at their color so I would be totally in favor of new academic approaches," says resident Don McCree.

Another challenge for the task force is to decide where to build the center. Franklin suggested Wednesday that the center should be closely linked withN.C. State University.

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