IA Joins the W.K. Kellogg Foundation’s Initiative on Truth, Racial Healing & Transformation

By Imagining America | December 12, 2016

Imagining America (IA) joins a broad coalition, the Truth, Racial Healing & Transformation (TRHT) initiative, organized by the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, aimed at supporting communities to embrace racial healing and equity. IA affirms its commitment to racial justice within and beyond higher education in this political moment by joining this unprecedented partnership.

TRHT is a national and community-based process designed to engage communities in healing and change efforts that address current inequities linked to the belief of racial hierarchy. By engaging organizations in the public and private sectors, the initiative explores historic patterns and structural racism to inform strategies for meaningful change nationwide. As an institutional partner of TRHT, IA convened in Carlsbad, California in December 2016 for the TRHT summit to help organizations and communities plan for execution of TRHT locally and nationally in 2017.

“Few will argue that our society needs healing on multiple dimensions,” said Timothy K. Eatman, IA faculty co-director. “At its essence, IA is about knowledge and healing, so our participation in this effort is important and we are pleased to be partnering in this multi-year initiative. We hope to bring the empathic ability to connect and engage in multiple registers that is often underrepresented within institutions of higher education.”

IA was introduced to the TRHT by IA national advisory board member, co-founder and executive director of the Ashé Cultural Arts Center in New Orleans, Carol Bebelle, who leads TRHT’s design team for healing, on which Eatman also serves. IA board member Adam Bush is also a member. The design team for healing is one of the five such groups focused on developing and advancing a model around which ten communities will come together in the next phase of the project.

The growing coalition of TRHT partners, representing 100 diverse individuals and organizations, includes close IA collaborators College Unbound and the Association of American Colleges & Universities (AAC&U). Launched in January 2016, TRHT is led by Dr. Gail C. Christopher, senior advisor to the W.K. Kellogg Foundation.

“TRHT is an evolution of the combined work of decades of effort by tens of thousands to disarm the ‘original lie’ of a hierarchy in human value, one human being more valuable than another for physical or circumstantial cause,” said Carol Bebelle. “The pursuit of healing may appear aspirational, but if today’s national political theater teaches us anything, it is sorely needed.”

The TRHT partnership continues IA’s commitment to the creation and progression of diverse spaces for healing, increased access, and historical re-imagining. It is particularly tied to IA’s linking full participation research project, which brings together higher education institutions and communities that are working to engage the full participation of diverse communities, particularly those historically left out of the conversation. TRHT draws on Truth and Reconciliation Commission models for dialogue, which have been implemented nationally and internationally to resolve consequences of centuries of racism and structural inequities.

The current issue of AAC&U’s Liberal Education publication, released in Fall 2016, centers on TRHT as its theme. With particular attention to the role of higher education, this special issue provides an overview of this wide-ranging effort to heal racial divides in communities across the country, and features articles by Gail C. Christopher and AAC&U President Lynn Pasquerella.