University of Alabama at Birmingham and the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute brought together a diverse panel of residents and community leaders to discuss the importance of civil discourse, and how it can be practiced in our daily lives, during a crowded, free public event Nov. 15.The
The panel for “What Now? Renewing Civic Dialogue in the Wake of a Divisive Election” included UAB sociologist Nyesha Black, Ph.D., Jefferson County District Attorney Brandon Falls, 99.5 FM radio talk show host Matt Murphy, UAB Institute for Human Rights Director Tina Kempin Reuter, Ph.D., ¡HICA! Executive Director Isabel Rubio, and Ashfaq Taufique, president of the Birmingham Islamic Society. Ahmad Ward, vice president for Education and Exhibitions at the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute, served as the moderator.
“The presidential campaign season had rhetoric that seemed to expose divisions in society, but there is much more that joins us together than what divides us,” said UAB President Ray L. Watts, M.D., in his opening remarks. “This is also a lesson that any university needs to reinforce to students: There are many people who may not reflect the same views as you, but being able to effectively communicate and collaborate together is a testament to your character and their character.”
Each panelist was asked to give a brief opening statement about how Americans can practice civil discourse.
“This is a good opportunity for us to engage in conversation,” Kempin Reuter said. “We need to realize that we don’t listen well and that we are too quick to dismiss people.”
Ward says he hopes UAB and the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute can continue to partner to have more events in which Birmingham residents can share their opinions and learn to respect one another despite differing viewpoints.