Guests enjoy their meals at the 2nd Annual It's Time to Talk: Forums on Race at the Tate Student Center on Monday, March 19, 2018. The event's third iteration will be held March 28. (Photo/Jason Born)

The third annual It's Time to Talk: Forums on Race will be hosted at the Classic Center on March 28. Between 11:30 a.m.-1:30 p.m., people will have the opportunity to participate in an open discussion about race.

Karen Sterk, the executive director of the Jeannette Rankin Women's Scholarship Fund, said she was persuaded to establish this forum in Athens in 2017.

“It’s a forum to bring community stakeholders together to have a meaningful conversation,” Sterk said. “This is a conversation about racism in America.”

Prominent community members chair the event and are expected to be in attendance. The co-chairs will include Rose Dennis, the director of Patient Services at Piedmont Athens Regional Medical Center and Dawn Meyers, the associate superintendent of policy and school support services in the Clarke County School District.

Other community stakeholders will make up the honorary co-chairs. Michelle Cook, UGA'S vice provost for diversity and inclusion and strategic initiatives and Dr. Charles Peck, the former CEO of Piedmont Athens Regional Medical Center, will make up the honorary co-chairs.

Bettina Love will be the keynote speaker at this event. Love is the author of “We Need to Do More than Survive: Abolitionist Teaching and the Pursuit of Educational Freedom” and an associate professor in the College of Education.

“[Love’s book] is an excellent book. ‘Abolitionist Teaching’ is about how we all have to change the education system. We have to make a new one and make it welcoming, supportive, and inclusive for all children,” Sterk said.

Anna Scheyett, the keynote speaker in 2018 and the dean of the university’s School of Social Work, and Valerie Bell, the executive director of the Athens Regional Library System, both came up with a plan to help the Athens community shortly after that year’s forum. Six months and a $150,000 grant later, the library was able to provide trauma-informed care for the community.

“I think it’s just a wonderful example of what things can happen when people put their heads together and think positively about how we can change our culture,” Sterk said.

The race forums event is sold out, but the Jeannette Rankin Women's Scholarship Fund will be hosting a program called the Beloved Community Dialogue on May 2 from 5:30-7 p.m. at the Athens-Clarke County Regional Library.

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