Christopher Edley [From The Du Bois Institute's 'A Conversation on Race,' held on Martha's Vineyard, Massachusetts in late August 1997.]

This cannot be the 60s and 70s encounter groups. To my mind the way to connect people, the way to change people's values is ultimately through, primarily through experiences. Experiences linked perhaps through an Anna Deavere Smith, through a film, through a novel, or through interacting with each Conversation simply sets the stage for an that can be transforming. So the test of engagementthe national conversation will be whether it leads to forms of engagement that have that transformative quality them. Transforming in the sense of redefining our sense of community.

How will we know if the president's initiative has been successful? Here's one test. One test, it seems to me, it is whether we see at the end of this some stirring among people around the country, a stirring of leaders who try to define and shoulder their burden, our burden, for carrying the struggle forward.

In my view, my generation--Bill Clinton's generation, the post-Martin Luther King generation--has utterly failed to define and shoulder that burden. At a minimum this next year and what comes after it has to break the back of that in action and that lack of vision.



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