Posted October 15, 2012

Campus forum explores the continuing influence of race in the presidential race

Kelly and Massa Photography
College of Media and Communication Professor Karen Turner, right, moderates a "Race in the Race" panel discussion on Oct. 9 in TUTV's Studio 1.

Four and a half years ago, Barack Obama, then a candidate for the Democratic nomination for president, delivered his famous speech from Philadelphia’s National Constitution Center urging Americans to move beyond our “racial stalemate” toward a “more perfect union.”

Although he would go on to be elected the nation’s first African-American president, the issue of race continues to be relevant this year as he campaigns for a second term.

“Today it's more subtle but no less prevalent," said Associate Professor of Journalism Karen Turner, who organized and moderated an Oct. 9 Race in the Race town hall forum at Temple to explore the issue in depth.

Sponsored by the university’s Academic Center on Research and Diversity (ACCORD), the event featured a panel of 10 student leaders, who discussed major issues of the presidential election cycle, including how the candidates and the media have addressed race and diversity. Panelists included representatives of groups such as Students for Justice in Palestine, the Poetry Collective and Alpha Phi Alpha.

“The student leaders, representing the best of Temple, were well-spoken about race and diversity in the presidential race and were willing to share their views in a civil manner that promoted a conversation,” said Turner. “With our diverse student population, we have a unique opportunity at Temple to have such dialogues.”

“It really opened my eyes to different viewpoints of my fellow students,” said Darin Bartholomew, vice president of Temple College Republicans.

Audience members also had a chance to share their perspectives. Attendees were encouraged to pose questions and to further the discussion on Twitter by using the hashtag #RaceinRaceTU. The approach allowed students to participate in the discussion while also sharing the panelists’ views via social media.

“Important was the fact that the audience was engaged in the discussion,” said Turner. “However, as an entire Temple community we need to more actively engage ourselves.”

Turner observed that often people can be afraid to participate because political conversations are difficult and require them to open up in a public forum. But such dialogue is vital to a healthy democracy, she said.

“These are issues that need to be raised and openly discussed,” agreed Melody Lam, who represented the Asian Students Association at the event.

The event will air on Temple University Television later this month. Watch the TUTV program schedule for an air date.