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JMC Hosts Conference on Race and Socialism, Prof. Cancels Class for Students to Attend

Updated: Oct 14, 2020

Author: Grant Layle

On Monday, April 1, James Madison College hosted a conference titled, “Race in 21st Century America: Race, Democracy, and Socialism” at the Kellogg Center.

The JMC Office of Diversity Programming stated the event was “fundamentally designed to examine systems of power and privilege in the United States, especially the impact of these 'systems’ on communities of color.”

James Madison College professor Melissa Fore canceled class for students to attend the conference.

MSU student, Alec Wycoff, told The Morning Watch that Prof. Fore had cancelled class in order for her students to attend the conference.

“She made the point that it would relate to our class’s topic of fabricating race and should include many leading scholars from MSU and abroad on the subject of discriminatory institutions of power,” Wycoff said.

“It was interesting to hear about the African American women who missioned in the South to provide clinical and philanthropic healthcare,” Wycoff concluded.

The conference featured scholars and official representatives of struggling communities and identities to speak on topics such as: “Socialist Revolution and the Quest for Real Democracy, Racial, and Other Social Equalities”,and “Race, Class, and Gender: Black Women's Struggle for Citizenship Rights.”

The final speaker, Dr. Darlene Clark Hine of the Michigan State University Department of History, presented at length on the fight for equal rights for African American women. She proclaimed there are three critical rights that should be guaranteed to all people: education, voting rights and health care.

Hine's introduction included details of her work including the “theory of culture of dissemblance,” a historical trend she personally described as “the behavior of black women that created an appearance of openness, but actually shielded the truth of their inner lives from their oppression.”

It was further stated that to this day Hine stresses to her students to the critical necessity of “lifting the veil and shattering the silence.”

“Let me say straight up… as far as black women were concerned after the abolishment of slavery, they believed citizenship rights included the right to vote… the right to education… and the third, most important right, was the right to health care… that the state, whether through taxation or any other means, should pay for these rights,” Dr. Hine said.

She further stated these rights are “critical to the survival of their children and their communities.”

Dr. Hine talked about many black activists in American history to illustrate her point. She also drew comparisons to modern activism by relating the lynching of Emmett Till to the death of Trayvon Martin.

Dr. Hine was doubtful of the President’s ability to fight for African American rights.

“President Trump has not figured out how to deal with [black activists],” she said.

She continued to reinforce throughout her presentation her view that healthcare is a human right that has been fought for since America's founding with disappointing outcomes.

After the conference, at a reception held within the Kellogg Center, students and professors alike were overheard calling the conference a success.

Contributor: Grant Layle

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