On Tuesday, Oct. 11, the University of Montevallo President’s Office will host “Better Together: A Conversation on Race and Law Enforcement,” at 6:30 p.m. in LeBaron Recital Hall.
The symposium will feature an impressive lineup of guest panelists. These include Birmingham Mayor William Bell, Director of Minority Affairs for Governor Robert Bentley’s Office Nichelle Nix, Reverend Arthur Price, Jr. of the 16th Street Baptist Church, Shelby County Sheriff John Samaniego and Montgomery Mayor Todd Strange.
Christopher Nanni, the president and CEO of Community Foundation of Greater Birmingham, will serve as moderator.
“It is through listening and understanding one another’s perspective that we can engage in meaningful dialogue,” said Nanni. “I hope that we can begin this process, or at least understand the process, as a result of the panel discussion.”
Additionally, McNair Scholar Charmella Williams and members of the Nu Tau Chapter of Alpha Phi Alpha fraternity will ask questions submitted by the UM student body.
The numerous racial conflicts across the country this summer inspired UM President Dr. John W. Stewart III and UM trustees Brian Hamilton and LeRoy Nix to hold the symposium. These included the deaths of unarmed African American men Phliando Castile and Alton Sterling, as well as the controversial shooting in Dallas that killed five police officers.
Samaniego said he looks forward to addressing the role his and other police precincts across the state have sworn to uphold.
“I hope all participants grasp a better understanding of the law enforcement function and what role it plays in our community as well as what philosophy the men and women in law enforcement have toward citizens of all races, cultures and creeds,” said the Shelby County Sheriff.
He also applauds the University’s efforts to step up and address such an important social topic.
Cedric Norman, the assistant director of Student Life, and Director of Executive Affairs Kristy Lee played a major part in organizing the event. According to Norman, the event will be instrumental in continuing to shape the intercultural exchange on campus.
“We can then take that feedback and dialogue and integrate it into our academic course offerings, institutional support and strategic plan in order to better prepare our students to solve the problems of today,” said Norman.
Nix, whose office was created this year to better address minority issues, said the event will demonstrate an effort to recognize the unique problems faced by Alabama’s diverse minority groups. “It is important for communities to create an atmosphere of tolerance and respect for all individuals – regardless of race, ethnicity, or background,” said Nix. “I think this symposium is a great first step.”