The Citadel earns national grant to encourage community dialogue about race

Truth and Racial Healing

As seen in South Carolina Radio Network, by Renee Sexton

The Citadel has received a $30,000 grant to be used for encouraging community dialogue about race.

“Our overall goal is to broker mutual transformation and generative relationships between the Citadel and the Charleston community and so built into the grant’s goals are to increase relationships between the Citadel and our local community,” center co-director Dr. J. Goosby Smith said. Smith is also Assistant Provost of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion and a management professor at the military college in Charleston.The grant will fund a new Truth, Racial Healing and Transformation Center to organize community discussions called CitListen.

The Citadel was one of 10 colleges awarded the grant from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation and Newman’s Own among 125 applicants. They will develop guidebooks on discourse which will be used by other universities nationwide.

Faculty worked with the Charleston Police Department, the Charleston County School District, the Charleston YWCA and Trident Urban League to submit the community proposal.

“We always have had a historical and present relationship with various pockets of the community,” Smith said. “So this wasn’t done in any goal to fix something. Part of the reason we got it is we do have a good community relationship.”

Smith said the best way to address our differences is to see each other first as people before categorizing them. So the CitListen programs intend to bring people together to get to know each other first.

“Most of the things that we see in society that are so troubling come from us dehumanizing one another,” Smith said.

The effort includes Citadel partnerships with the YWCA of Charleston, the city school district, the International African American Museum, and various local churches.

“To slowly change the narrative on race by brokering non-threatening but intimate conversations between people that will enable them to see each other as human beings because you don’t really get to know a person until you know their story. So it’s a very strong-focused methodology,” she said.

Smith said the program has five goals: improve communications among people within the Citadel, prepare cadets to engage with inclusion and diversity issues, encourage those off-campus to engage in dialogue, deepen community partnerships with the city schools, Charleston Police Department and Trident Urban League, and inform the public of diversity activities at the Citadel.

Meeting dates have not yet been set but the community is invited to participate, Smith said.

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