Reflections on a Forum at Lawson State Community College

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  • Curtis L. Sparks, III
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We are deeply saddened at news of the passing of Curtis L. Sparks III, who died at his home May 16, 2019. Curtis was a talented forum convener and moderator and his work and his inspiring and caring ways will be greatly missed. The following is just one story about the important work that Curtis was doing in his community.

The following are reflections from Gregory Wilson, Adjunct professor of World History, Lawson State Community College on using deliberation with college students focusing on the A House Divided issue guide.

Curtis L. Sparks III

The "A House Divided: How Do We Get The Political System We Want," National Issues Forum (NIF) on the campus of Lawson State moderated by Curtis Sparks was a resounding success. 

One item that stood out to the audience was the positive and balanced approach exhibited by Curtis as moderator. The moderator, a disabled person exhibited a continued passion to make a difference in today's society and the world at large. His presence alone was motivational and spoke volumes.

In light of American politics in today's polarized society, and the major issues dealing with immigration and a crisis involving educational disparities in public education highlighted by programmatic educational abandonment, each student participant commented how they, like many people have lost confidence in our national institutions that fail to address their immediate needs and concerns.

On the other hand, in spite of the historic breakthroughs and racial symbolism during the Age of Obama, there is a major lack of classroom discourse reflecting the rise of a New Jim Crow and vigilant or militia groups embracing mass incarcerations impacting particularly African American, Latino, and Hispanic communities.

Most interesting, student participants shared their views regarding dangerous toxic talk that is rampant by various groups using social media and public discourse. However, viewing Option Three: Take control and make decisions closer to home seemingly led to greater levels of deliberative dialogue.

For more information about this work, contact Gregory Wilson at

Photos courtesy of Venita Tubbs.