The Barrier that Divides

The Barrier that Divides
January 08
00:00 2015

MLK Breakfast to tackle timely themes

Is racism America’s Berlin Wall?

Ernie Pitt, publisher of The Chronicle, is presenting this question as the topic for discussion at the newspaper’s 2015 Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day Breakfast Forum.

The breakfast will be 8 a.m. to 10 a.m. Monday, Jan. 19 at the Benton Convention Center, 301 West Fifth St.

“Given the environment in the United States today, we feel we need to have a serious discussion about racism,” Pitt said.

He referred to the nation’s heated racial climate after several white police officers went unpunished for killing unarmed black people, especially black men and boys.

Blacks nationwide have been joined by other minorities and some whites to protest those killings and what people believe is injustice. Winston-Salem is among the cities where protests have been staged.

Ongoing discussions about the relationship between black residents and black students and police in Winston-Salem were taking place before the nationwide uproar about the killings.

“The situation is only going to get worse unless we do something,” Pitt says.

Pitt compares racism in America to the Berlin Wall, which divided Berlin from 1961 to 1989, when it was torn down.

“We have fashioned what is happening in this country similar to what happened in Germany after World War II, when the Berlin Wall was constructed. … Those on the eastern side were suffering.”

In order to end racism, Pitt said, “we have to have some serious discussions with white people,” because black people can’t end it by themselves. It would have ended by now if that were possible, Pitt said.

“We raise the question: Is racism America’s Berlin Wall? And if it is, we want people of just minds, and commitment to ending this, to help us begin to tear down this wall of racism.”

The Chronicle has sponsored an MLK Jr. Day breakfast event for almost two decades in honor of King, who gave his life trying to improve the relationship between blacks and whites, Pitt said.

In the past, the format featured ministers who spoke on various aspects of King’s work.

This year, the breakfast will have a different format. It will feature local government and community leaders who will discuss the state of race relations. A final list of participants has not been finalized.

The event is free, but a ticket is required. For tickets, call 336-723-8428, ext. 100.

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Donna Rogers

Donna Rogers

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