The International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination is observed annually on 21 March. On that day, in 1960, police opened fire and killed 69 people at a peaceful demonstration in Sharpeville, South Africa, against the apartheid “pass laws”. Proclaiming the Day in 1966, the General Assembly called on the international community to redouble its efforts to eliminate all forms of racial discrimination (resolution 2142 (XXI)).
Not In Our Town
Annual Report of 2011 Activities
Continuing Conversations on Race continued to meet on the first Monday of each month 7:30 PM at
the Princeton Public Library throughout the year except for the summer months. The group continues to
be a popular community forum. NIOT values this activity especially because it reaches individuals who
would be less likely to attend scheduled events – a younger, working population, usually not affiliated
with a religious institution. There is considerable variety among the attenders from month to month,
balanced by a core group of five to six regulars, as well as members of NIOT.
There has been growing concern over the number of “bullying” incidents that have occurred in the
Princeton area, including several in Princeton itself. At its March meeting, NIOT members decided to
make “bullying” a major focus of NIOT activities in 2011.
NIOT joined the YWCA in their April 29, 2011 Stand Against Racism event by engaging the business
community in a commitment to end racism by displaying signs in their establishments saying “We
Stand Against Racism Today and Every Day.” NIOT purchased an ad in Town Topics which listed all
the participating businesses and submitted a letter to the editor to run concurrently with the ad. NIOT
members canvassed and distributed signs throughout the central business areas.
In May NIOT co-sponsored the film Welcome to Shelbyville at the Princeton Public Library.
NIOT’s annual Unity Award Reception took place on June 5, 2011 at the Carl Field Center on the
Princeton campus. This year’s event was an especially joyous and uplifting occasion. NIOT received
many appreciative comments recognizing its work in raising awareness about racism in the community
and honoring students who are “ role models in their efforts to promote respect for diversity and to
advance the cause of race relations.”
In July (7/5/11) NIOT was a co-sponsor in a Community Roundtable on Immigration initiated by the
Latin American Legal Defense and Education Fund at Princeton Public Library. A member of NIOT
participated in the panel. There were presentations and discussion. The event was well attended, with
many members of the Latino community present.
NIOT’s Bullying Series was initiated in September (9/12/11) with the showing of the film, “Light in
the Darkness.” This excellent film, produced and developed by The Working Group, describes a
community’s response to anti-immigrant violence following the murder of an Ecuadorian resident. The
film was followed by discussion. Attenders were given index cards as they arrived and invited to
describe ‘bullying’ episodes from their own lives (anonymously). Twenty-seven cards were submitted at
the end of the meeting with many very moving and informative accounts of various kinds of bullying,
describing who helped and who didn’t, and the effects on their lives at the time and afterwards. Planning
for the “Bullying” series continued through the fall. A series of four events is under development.
In December (12/05/11) NIOT supported PPL in promoting the film, Prince Among Slaves. The film,
produced by Unity Productions Foundation, tells the harrowing true story of an African Muslim prince,
Abdul Rahman, who was captured in a war in Africa and sold into slavery to a small plantation owner
in Mississippi . He spent 40 years in slavery without ever losing his dignity or sense of self-worth. He
eventually was able to buy his release and became an ardent and effective spokesman for emancipation.
Following the film, Princeton University Professor Kwami Appiah reflected on the Abdul Rahman story.
Apiah centered his remarks around the concept of dignity, pointing out that the worst crime of slavery –
even worse than physical abuse – is the erosion of dignity. These thoughts were explored more fully in
the NIOT Continuing Conversation group that followed.
“This is a wide-ranging exploration of how America looks, thinks, and lives in terms of race as we go into this new millennium. Bridging political science, sociology, and the burgeoning study of DNA, the authors show us that racial order remains one of the most reliable ways of organizing our past and present as Americans, even as that order is dynamic and indeed transformed over time.”–Henry Louis Gates Jr., Harvard University