National Issues Forums (NIF) networker, Curtis L. Sparks, III convened a forum on the issue topic, Coming to America: Who Should We Welcome, What Should We Do? on November 8th at Brookdale University Park in Birmingham, Alabama. "Curtis is presenting possibilities for people to transcend their challenges in democratic practices," said one curriculum team member.
Click here to see the flyer announcing the forum.
The following are excerpts from a report about the forum by Gregg Kaufman:
The participants used the Coming to America advisory for the dialogue. Mr. Rod Scott moderated the forum. Mr. Scott is an Alabama State Legislator. The participants were honored to have their representative involved in the forum...
People recognized that a lack of enforcement of immigration laws and policies, including poor monitoring of guest visas combined with a porous southern border contributed to the nation's current state of affairs. The participants also recognized that refugees are willing to risk their lives to seek safety in the United States. Generally speaking, the group felt that something needs to be done about the immigrants who reside in the country.
The theme of race was prominent throughout the forum dialogue. The group's African American heritage enabled people to tap into empathy for immigrants--refugees, undocumented, people with working visas, and those waiting in line to emigrate to the United States--people who in some ways encounter similar problems. One person said, "Race is often used as a crutch. We need to take responsibility for ouselves. We have resources. Resources are not exclusively financial." Another person said, "White privilege is a 'blinder' that results in people avoiding talking about race." The gist of this discussion seemed to indicate that immigrants must take responsibility for advocating for their rights much like African America citizens did during the Civil Rights movement and beyond. However, the group recognized the tension between not having a "voice" as an undocumented immigrant and having the freedom to speak as a citizen.
For more information about this work, contact Curtis L. Sparks, III.
Alajujuan Sparks Sr. provides support
Sixth Avenue Baptist Church deacons participated in the Study Circle approach