The Carter G. Woodson Center for Interracial Education, established in 2011, supports Berea College’s fifth Great Commitment, to interracial education.
Housed in the Alumni Building, the center is open to both students and the public. “This is where the dialogue happens. We want everyone to feel welcome here, to find themselves in this story,” said Alicestyne Turley, Ph.D., director of the center.
To that end, Turley said the center hosts national conversations on race. Past speakers have included author bell hooks and anti-racist essayist Tim Wise. The center also hosts TRUTH talks, where people can ask questions they are afraid to ask by using social media and remaining anonymous. Topics include gendered language, environmental violence, and the “N” word.
Turley said the program has grown: The first TRUTH talk had 10 -20 participants; now about 100 people take part. Berea students take this model program to other colleges, including Cornell, to demonstrate their technique.
Berea College was started by abolitionists. Among its graduates are Carter G. Woodson, the historian and journalist who from Berea went on to the University of Chicago and Harvard; the Britton sisters, Julia, who taught bluesman W.D. Handy, and Mary, the first African-American female doctor in Kentucky; and minister James Bond, who was the great-grandfather of civil rights activist Julian Bond.
“That is what Berea is. It’s bringing all these intersections and identities to realize we have much more in common than we do in difference,” Turley said. “And while some people may look at Appalachia and not see it as a diverse location, our job is to demonstrate that Appalachia has always been diverse and always been creative and useful to the world.”
This segment is part of Kentucky Life episode #2210, which originally aired on February 18, 2017. Watch the full episode.