Toward Racial Justice

Conversations to educate, engage and inspire change.


About the series:

Toward Racial Justice is a biweekly series of virtual community conversations addressing systemic racism and injustice in Central Pennsylvania and beyond. Series moderator is Charles Ellison, executive producer & host of “Reality Check” on WURD in Philadelphia — the only Black-owned talk radio station in Pennsylvania.

You are encouraged to submit questions and share personal experiences at discuss@witf.org or by using #RacialJusticePA on your preferred social media platform.


Up next: June 24

During this discussion, we’ll look at the role Black and Latino churches play in our communities, what makes them unique, and what they bring today to the racial and social justice movement.

In the community: Celebrate Juneteenth in Central Pennsylvania

Harrisburg’s Juneteenth Jubilee on June 19 will have performances, speakers, activities, food and more.

YPOC is hosting three events — a restaurant crawl, discovery walk, and a cookout — in Harrisburg on June 18 and 19.

The York County History Center is opening two exhibits and offering guided exhibit talks on June 19.

In Lancaster, watch decorated cars in the Juneteenth Car Parade, then enjoy the annual Spice of Life cookout on June 19.

YWCA, SoWe Pocket Park and Artist Nate Gadsden are putting on a film festival in Lancaster on June 18 and 19. 

WATCH


Past conversations

For people of color, the process of tracing genetic and ancestral roots can be difficult, painful and often filled with false leads and dead ends. Toward Racial Justice: Tracing Family History features genealogists and other experts as they offer solutions and resources to trace BIPOC family histories. (Broadcast live on June 10)

Panelists:
Dean A. Henry
Ric Murphy
Debbie-Ann Paige
Dr. Gina Paige


Toward Racial Justice explores the impact of George Floyd’s death and how it has shaped the past year. During this discussion, hear from individuals who are working to establish criminal justice reform and where we go from here. (Broadcast live on May 27)

Panelists:
Jamiel Alexander
Detective Sergeant Ramon Caraballo
Lieutenant Byron Lewis
State Representative Chris Rabb


Toward Racial Justice: Intsersection of Race and the LGBTQ Community examines some of the needs and challenges faced by LGBTQ people of color, such as experiences with religion and discrimination. (Broadcast live on May 13)

Panelists:
Amanda Carter
Stephen Jiwanmall
Ana Machado
Kenneth J. Sutton
Brice Williams


WITF’s Toward Racial Justice explores current events affecting today’s youth. We discuss timely issues that are top-of-mind to young people today, ranging from police brutality to climate change. (Broadcast live on April 29)

Panelists:
Hadel A.
Elijah Dourado
Gaquaya Harris
Hilary Santos
Jelani Splawn


Explore the importance of supporting BIPOC (Black, Indigenous and People of Color)-owned businesses, and their economic impact and development in Toward Racial Justice: Supporting BIPOC Owned Businesses. (Broadcast live on April 15)

Panelists:
Dr. Cathy Coleman
Dr. Jean Corey
Cynthia Daniels
Dr. Jackie Wilson


One of our most engaging conversation topics of 2020 returns to further examine what it means to be an ally and why it is more important than ever for us to work together in the fight against racism. (Broadcast live on April 1)

Panelists:
Sharon England
Joseph Robinson
Misha Viets van Dyk
Rev. William Lamar
A. Hirotoshi Nishikawa, Ph.D.​


Toward Racial Justice: Multiracial Family Dynamics looks at the differences that multiracial families experience with self-esteem and how having multiple ethnic backgrounds can impact identity.  (Broadcast live on March 18)

Panelists:
Dr. Cathy Coleman
Dr. Jean Corey
Cynthia Daniels
Dr. Jackie Wilson


For decades, students of color have lagged behind their peers in academic achievement across the country. Unfortunately, in Pennsylvania, the school-funding formula hasn’t been able to remedy the disparities between affluent and poor public-school districts. Toward Racial Justice: Inequities in Pa.’s Education Funding System explores the issue. (Broadcast live on March 4)

Panelists:
Crystal Echeverria
Deborah Gordon Klehr
Kelly Lewis
Dr. Damaris Rau
Beth Yoder


Toward Racial Justice: COVID-19, Trust and Vaccines explores some of the racial disparities within the COVID-19 pandemic. We also look at the hesitancy regarding vaccines. (Broadcast live on Feb. 18)

Panelists:
Rev. Dr. Brenda Alton
Dr. Marilyn Corder
Dr. Eugene Curley
Anika Jackson
Dr. Mary E. Kelleher
Dr. Ivan Walks


Toward Racial Justice: A Look Ahead looks back at highlights from the past year with several of the series’ community co-organizers. Plus we explore current issues surrounding policing and policy. (Broadcast live on Feb. 4)

Panelists:
Sharia Benn
Jonathan Feinberg
Stephanie Jirard
Representative Joanna McClinton
Mark Rhodes


Toward Racial Justice: Celebrating Black and Latino Arts showcases the work of Black and Latino artists in Central Pennsylvania and provide them a space to share their story. (Broadcast live on Dec. 17)

Artists and panelists:
Ophelia M. Chambliss
Shelly Lipscomb Echeverria
Daniel Egusquiza
Lyeneal Griffin
Christyn Seay
Maria James Thiaw
Reina Wooden
With a special performance by Croix Ellison


With a backdrop of national protests, a surging pandemic and questions surrounding mail-in ballots, Toward Racial Justice unpacks Election 2020: One Month Later. (Broadcast live on Dec. 3)

Panelists:
Aerion Abney
Kendelle Durkson
Stefan Hankin
Armenta Early Hinton
Megan Ruoro


When it comes to health, Black and Latino populations experience significant disparities. Toward Racial Justice: A Conversation on Health Disparities examines the importance of addressing health disparities and the work being done to close the gaps. (Broadcast live on Nov. 19)

Panelists:
Dr. Sharee Livingston
Dr. Kevin Ahmaad Jenkins, PhD
Dr. Oralia G. Dominic
Jenny Englerth


Toward Racial Justice: A Conversation on How to be an Ally examines what it means to be an ally and why it is so important for all of us to work together in the fight against racism. (Broadcast live on Nov. 5)

Panelists:
Aurora Archer
Kelly Croce Sorg
Amanda Kemp
Tsedale M. Melaku


Toward Racial Justice: A Conversation on Policing & Safety examines racial bias in policing, the public’s view of the police and the movement to defund law enforcement. (Broadcast live on Oct. 22)

Panelists:
Jamiel L. Alexander
Detective Sergeant Ramon Caraballo
Commissioner Thomas Carter
Byron & Stephanie Lewis
Capt. Sonia Pruitt


Toward Racial Justice: A Conversation on Race & Identity in the Media explores role that news organizations play in covering people of color and the direct impact it can have on stereotypes, cultural perceptions and society as a whole. (Broadcast live on Oct. 8)

Panelists:
Sandra Clark
Marquise Davon Richards
David Stamps
Torraine Walker


Toward Racial Justice: A Conversation on Race, Elections & Voting explores the reasons why people of color’s representation in elections matter. (Broadcast live on Sept. 24)

Panelists:
Kendelle Durkson
Veronica Ruiz
Shelice Stewart
Justin Walton
Ralph Rodriguez
Mikell Simpson
Jonathan Tinoco


Youth of color are more likely to end up in the juvenile justice system. Toward Racial Justice: A Conversation on Race & Juvenile Justice explores the reasons behind that fact. (Broadcast live on Sept. 10)

Panelists:
Steve Bishop
Robert Saleem Holbrook
Tiffany Sizemore
Lenore Wyant


Toward Racial Justice: A Conversation on Environmental Justice examines why it is important everyone has equal access the knowledge and decision-making process to have a healthy environment. (Broadcast live on Aug. 27)

Panelists:
State Rep. Chris Rabb
Darral Addison
Dr. Reginald Archer
Brandi Colander
Tommy Joshua
Megan Ruoro


People of color are regularly undercounted in the census. Toward Racial Justice: A Conversation on the Census & Race explores the ways this survey directly impacts our community. (Broadcast live on Aug. 13)

Panelists:
Leonard S. Brown
Norman Bristol Colon
Kimberly Corbin
George Fernandez
Lunden McClain


Toward Racial Justice: A Conversation on Race & Housing explores discriminatory practices in real estate market, the public housing system, access to home ownership and the impacts of gentrification. (Broadcast live on July 30)

Panelists:
Beck Joyner
Sharee D. McFadden
Angela McIver


Toward Racial Justice: A Conversation on Racial Inequality in Education explores the racial disparities in our education system and steps we can take to address the issue. (Broadcast live on July 16)

Panelists:
Dr. Nikole Hollins-Sims
Stephen Sharp
Casey Stokes-Rodriguez, LSW
Peter Groff


Toward Racial Justice: A Conversation on Racial Trauma & Mental Health explores the links between racism and mental health. (Broadcast live on July 2)

Panelists:
Alphonso Nathan, LPC
Dr. Ericka Pinckney, NCC, LPC
Kelsey Benn
Dr. Altha J. Stewart


Toward Racial Justice: A Conversation on Systemic Racism is the first in WITF’s Toward Racial Justice series of community conversations. (Broadcast live on June 18)

Panelists:
Armenta Hinton, Ph.D.
Jamiel L. Alexander
Dr. Monea Abdul-Majeed
Sam Gerlach

RESOURCES FOR FAMILIES


LISTEN


READ

Stories from the series

Toward Racial Justice panelists revisit topic of allyship

Just after the 2020 election, four panelists talked with TRJ host Charles Ellison about how White people can help demolish systemic racism and White supremacy. During an early-April installment of the TRJ series, Ellison returned to the topic and asked guests how to create coalitions across racial and ethnic groups.

By Alanna Elder

For multiracial families, mental health experts say open discussions about identity are a must

In a recent Toward Racial Justice discussion, Daniels and other panelists talked through some of the dynamics in multiracial families, focusing mostly on families made up of Black and White relatives.

By Alanna Elder

Advocates say 2021 is key for education equity

Equity in education dollars is a longstanding debate in the Commonwealth, which is the defendant in a lawsuit arguing that its mode of funding is unconstitutional. Advocates who participated in WITF’s Toward Racial Justice panel on education funding say now is the time to begin closing the gaps.

By Alanna Elder

Book recommendations from Toward Racial Justice panelists and co-organizing committee.


Nonfiction

(Seven Stories Press)
(Ballantine Books)
(UNC Press)
(The New Press)
(One World)
(Haymarket Books)
(One World)
(The New Press)

(Atria Books)

(Crossing Press)
(Ballantine Books)
(Russell Sage Foundation)

Fiction

(Penguin Classics)
(Vintage International)
(Vintage International)

Toward Racial Justice committee of co-organizers:

  • Sharia Benn — President & Executive Artistic Director of Sankofa African American Theatre Company
  • Corey Dupree — Chief Operating Officer at The Bridge: Eco Village in Harrisburg
  • Stephanie A. Jirard — Chief Diversity Officer & Professor of Criminal Justice at Shippensburg University
  • Mark Rhodes — Diversity Educator and Strategist, Owner of Key Learning Consultants and a Commissioner with the City of York Human Relations Commission
  • Delma Rivera-Lytle — Diversity Education Specialist at Central York School District
  • Major Kristal M. Turner-Childs — Director, Bureau of Forensic Services, Pennsylvania State Police & WITF Board Member

A Time to Act!

In April 1968, WITF produced four half-hour documentaries about life in Harrisburg’s “ghetto” and hosted town halls around Central Pennsylvania to continue the discussion. After decades in our programming vault, these videos are now available for viewing online.