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Unmasked: We Can't Breathe

  • About This Program

    Join us as we address the impacts of recent injustices on the Black community.

    During the stress of a pandemic, the Gantt Center has highlighted the many ways Black Americans suffer its effects at a disproportionately higher rate. Although the reasons have social, economical, and historical contexts, they are all sourced from the same foundation: racism and white-supremacy. Recent events, as expounded on by various social and news media platforms, have shown that Black lives today are threatened by much more than a potentially deadly virus.

    For this special public conversation, we discuss how policing continues to be a historical weapon of racial discrimination and control. We point out the barbarous methods of police in America, and how they uncannily hold a 400-year pattern of systematic oppression. We discuss the lack of accountability and inconsistent training of police across the United States and how this deficiency of responsibility has resulted in countless Black lives suffering a powerless fate of fatal abuse. We ask ourselves the tough questions of the future of Black America for generations to come. We culminate the conversation with multi-level actionable items that we all can enact to dismantle a system that has been doomed from its inception.

    Hosted by Q City Metro’s Glenn Burkins, joined by special guest, former South Carolina State Representative and current CNN political commentator Bakari Sellers, U.S. Congresswoman Alma Adams, Mecklenburg County Sheriff Garry McFadden, and Image Activist Alvin C. Jacobs, Jr., this must-see discussion will be elevated with your attendance and contributed perspective.

    The discussion will be streamed via the Gantt Center's YouTube live channel at 6 pm on Wednesday, June 3.

    Gantt Center's YouTube channel

    How To Participate

    Viewing this program is free and open to the public. To chat during the program and contribute your perspective, you will need a YouTube account with a Gmail email address prior to the program. If you do not have a YouTube account, click here for a step-by-step tutorial on creating a YouTube account.

  • About The Panelists

    Bakari Sellers

    Bakari Sellers made history in 2006 when, at just 22 years old, he defeated a 26-year incumbent State Representative to become the youngest member of the South Carolina state legislature and the youngest African American elected official in the nation.

    Earning his undergraduate degree from Morehouse College and his law degree from the University of South Carolina, Sellers has a tireless commitment to championing progressive policies to address issues ranging from education and poverty to preventing domestic violence and childhood obesity.

    His impressive list of accomplishments in addition to having served on President Barack Obama's South Carolina steering committee during the 2008 election, Sellers is widely considered to be a rising star within the Democratic Party and leading voice for his generation. That coupled with his uncommon ability to reach across the aisle and get things done has led to numerous accolades including being named to TIME Magazine's 40 Under 40 in 2010 as well as 2014 and 2015 “The Root 100” list of the nation’s most influential African-Americans. Mr. Sellers will be releasing his debut book on Harpers Collins May 19 of this year. The book is titled My Vanishing Country.

    Mr. Sellers will be releasing his debut book titled "My Vanishing Country" on May 19 th through Harper Collins.

    Sellers practices law with the Strom Law Firm, LLC in Columbia, SC and is a Political Commentator at CNN. He is married to Dr. Ellen Rucker-Sellers.

    U.S. Congresswoman Alma Adams

    Dr. Alma S. Adams was elected to her third full term representing the 12th Congressional District of North Carolina on November 6, 2018. Throughout her career, Representative Adams has promoted quality education for all students, spearheading numerous pieces of legislation to boost funds for Historically Black Colleges and Universities. She has also introduced legislation to provide nutritious breakfast in schools and supports increased pay for teachers. She is the recipient of numerous awards and honors, including the North Carolina A&T State University Human Rights Medal, the highest award presented by her alma mater to an individual who fights against social injustice and helps improve the world.

    In 1994, Dr. Adams was appointed by her peers to serve in the North Carolina House District 26 seat. She went on to serve ten terms in the state House. During her tenure, she rose to become the chair of the North Carolina Legislative Black Caucus and was instrumental in passing legislation that improved the climate for quality affordable health care in the state. Representative Adams also pioneered the Displaced Homemakers Bill and successfully spearheaded the state’s first minimum wage increase in nine years. She began her political career in the 1980’s by becoming the first African American woman ever elected to the Greensboro City School Board. It was then that she made a lifetime commitment to effecting social change in her community and beyond.

    Adams graduated from North Carolina A&T State University in 1968 and received her master’s degree in Art Education in 1972. She earned her Ph.D. in Art Education and Multicultural Education from The Ohio State University in Columbus, Ohio in 1981.

    Garry L. McFadden

    Sheriff Garry L. McFadden was elected to serve as the 45th Sheriff of Mecklenburg County and was sworn into office on December 4, 2018. Prior to being elected as Sheriff, Garry had a distinguished 36 year law enforcement career with the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department where he served for over 20 years as a legendary homicide detective.

    Garry’s unconventional methods and deep ties to the community helped him to solve hundreds of murders over the course of his illustrious career. As a detective, Garry had one of the highest solve rates in police department history which lead to him starring in his own television series, “I Am Homicide.” The series highlights some of Garry’s biggest cases and how the perpetrators were caught. Sheriff McFadden can still be seen on television in the series “Homicide City” on the Investigation Discovery (ID) network.

    Since the start of his career Garry has been an advocate for change and committed to building bridges and breaking down barriers between law enforcement and the communities they serve.

    Garry’s record of community service is well documented, and he has received numerous awards for his long standing and continuous work in Mecklenburg County communities with various organizations such as, Omega Psi Phi Fraternity Incorporated, NAACP, NBA Legends, MoMo – Mother of Murdered Offspring, Cops & Barbers, Beauty After The Bars, Charlotte Black Mental Health, The Sons of The American Revolution; along being honored as Charlotte's Citizen of The Year 2015 just to name a few. In 2015, Garry was recognized by President Barack Obama for his work on the 21st Century Policing Initiative and his involvement in the development of an outstanding community program titled “Cops and Barbers.

    Since taking office in December of 2018, Sheriff McFadden has implemented several key initiatives to progressively move the Mecklenburg County Sheriff’s Office into a new direction aimed towards building law enforcement and community relationships, including holding the first ever career fair for residents in a detention center, establishing a family contact visitation area, reinstituting face-to-face visitation, ending solitary confinement for youthful offenders, instituting the first ever barber school inside of a detention center as well as a digital literacy program.

    Garry is a husband, father of three adult children and a proud grandfather.

    Alvin C. Jacobs, Jr.

    Alvin C. Jacobs, Jr., a native of Rockford, IL, is a professional photographer and image activist currently living in Charlotte, NC. He is also the 2018-2019 Gantt Center artist-in-residence who was commissioned to photograph the award-winning images in the Gantt Center's exhibition Welcome to Brookhill. His distinctive aesthetic is marked by a propensity toward highlighting stark contrast and in dealing in the black & white - both in photography and in the world. This talent for capturing the heart of his subjects on camera has led to him being named one of Charlotte Magazine's 2018 "Charlotteans of the Year" and Creative Loafing's "Best Photographer of 2018." Welcome to Brookhill also received top honors by Creative Loafing readers as "Best Exhibit of 2018."

    Glenn Burkins

    Founder & Publisher of Glenn Burkins moderates this critical discussion. He will be joined by Executive Director of the Brookhill Community Resource Center Debbie Williams, North Carolina Historian Tom Hanchett, Food Lion Regional Community Relations Specialist Raechelle Petteway, and Founder & Executive Director of The Males Place, Reggie Singleton. Tune in for a thorough conversation on food deserts with voices of varied perspectives from our community.

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