MOUNT VERNON — In the spring of 2016 a community discussion course, now known as the local “Overcoming Racism” classes, began. Each year the classes offer opportunities for conversations and study centered around a book covering the difficult topic of racism. The hope has always been to bring about awareness and change regarding racism in individuals and the community through respectful dialogue.
This year’s Overcoming Racism Class will be meeting Sept. 17 through Oct. 15 Tuesday evenings from 6:30-7:30 p.m. at “The Barn” on the Mount Vernon Nazarene University campus. The class will be reading and discussing “Way Up North in Dixie: A Black Family’s Claim to the Confederate Anthem” a book featuring local music legends “the Snowden Family Band” and Dan Emmett as well as detailed local history.The book was written by local authors, retired Kenyon professor Howard Sacks and scholar Judith Sacks. On the final day of the class at 7 p.m., both authors along with Oberlin professor Renee Romano and Kenyon professor Jon Tazewell will form a discussion panel sponsored by the Knox Alliance for Racial Equality (KARE).
Rev. Scott Elliott, one of the founders of the Overcoming Racism classes who will moderate the panel discussion, pointed out that “We chose to use this very well written book because it covers local African American history, and is ultimately about the song Dixie, which rose to fame first as a black face minstrel show song, and then among other things, served as a battle hymn for those supporting slavery, Jim Crow, and segregation. While liked by many, the song comes with a lot of baggage worthy of consideration.”
Elliott added, “So this dynamic twenty-six year old book remains relevant to our community conversations on racism. Making it even more dynamic is the authors joining the KARE discussion panel on Oct. 15 with distinguished professors Romano and Tazewell!”
The community is invited to the class and panel. There is no fee to attend but attendees are expected to acquire the book on their own and have read Chapter one (pages 1-56) for the first class on Sept. 17.
For more information, check out the Overcoming Racism Facebook page.