Freedom and Learning Forum to address subject of policing race

One of the most highly charged topics in the nation is the subject of  discussion this week at George Mason University’s annual Freedom and Learning Forum.  

More than 220 people are expected to attend the forum, “Policing Race: Critical Analyses on National Trends,” from 4:30 to 6 p.m. on Wednesday, Oct. 19 in Dewberry Hall, inside the Johnson Center on the Fairfax Campus.  

There have been several rich programs at Mason focusing on this topic over the last two years, said Rose Pascarell, vice president of University Life, one of the campus offices organizing the forum.  

“Meanwhile, the national conversation has been highly polarized and we have a community that is deeply affected by what continues to occur,” she said.   “We have brilliant thought leaders on our campus and in the larger community who are focusing on issues of policing, race, and racism. 

“The opportunity to bring them together for dialogue with each other and the Mason community seems critical and is also our responsibility as a university that is committed to creating a more just society.”  

The panelists for the forum are Earl Smith, a Mason sociology and African American studies professor; Laurie Robinson, a co-chair of President Barack Obama’s Task Force on 21st Century Policing and a professor of criminology law and society at Mason; Rita Chi-Ying Chung, a professor in the Counseling and Development Program in Mason’s College of Education and Human Development, and Shirley Ginwright, president of the NAACP in Fairfax and chair of the Fairfax County Communities of Trust Committee.  

“The forum … provides the platform necessary for Mason faculty, students and administrators to begin to address ‘the elephant in the room’ as these issues also play out on campus and in the wider communities in which we all live.” Smith said. “I am honored to have been asked to participate and bring to the discussion years of both teaching and research that addresses directly issues of race and policing.” 

During a 40-minute segment of the forum, panelists will answer submitted questions about policing asked by moderator Wendi Manuel-Scott, director of African and African American history and a professor of history and art history at Mason.  

There will also be a 20-minute question and answer segment with the audience.