In the aftermath of the tragedy at Mother Emanuel in 2015 it was determined that the University of South Carolina has a unique opportunity to bring our communities together and engage one another in an honest dialogue about race, racism and its impact on defining who we are as a university, state, and country. We understood that we couldn’t begin earnest steps toward reconciliation if we weren’t first committed to opening avenues for meaningful conversations that help us to understand one other and the challenges that we face. We were led to Dr. Susan Glisson, The William Winter Institute (at the University of Mississippi) and the process for community dialogue that she created called The Welcome Table.
One of the first steps we took was to begin learning how to facilitate The Welcome Table sessions. That work began in early 2016 when Dr. Glisson and her partner Mr. Charles Tucker come to South Carolina to train our first facilitators.
The Welcome Table is a process designed to help create relational trust, unity, teamwork and cohesiveness through a group of community members who want to improve racial relations and other problems in their communities. Participants learn better ways to communicate with each other and practice deep listening, which leads to better communication through the telling of our individual stories.
Stories are central to the Welcome Table process. They provide a glimpse into each other’s experiences and hearts which creates a space for deeper learning and cooperation based on our common humanity.
As communities express interest in addressing inherited racial and ethnic division, the SC Collaborative on Race and Reconciliation supports the creation of a local group to address local issues. As participants indicate a readiness to engage in a long-term process of local engagement, education and training, we offer a retreat to deepen the process.
Many great organizations focus on systemic change without including trust-building and relationships. As a result, their accomplishments are sometimes unsustainable because we often will not work with those we do not trust.
Others focus on relationship building, but do not carry their work into a movement towards social justice or understanding systemic oppression.
Relationship building and work for positive social change are hallmarks of the Welcome Table SC, which works to bridge the divide between racial equity and racial healing.
How You Can Participate
Funding for the Collaborative is based on contributions from philanthropic, religious
and business communities and from private individuals.
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