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Monday June 27th

'The fight is not over': UNC student government hosts panel about U.S. current state

<p>Screenshot from a Community Dialogue hosted by the Multicultural Affairs and Diversity Outreach Committee of the Undergraduate Executive Branch of UNC on Tuesday, Nov. 10, 2020, where committee members led discussions with panelists about the current state of America.</p>
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Screenshot from a Community Dialogue hosted by the Multicultural Affairs and Diversity Outreach Committee of the Undergraduate Executive Branch of UNC on Tuesday, Nov. 10, 2020, where committee members led discussions with panelists about the current state of America.

Speakers including UNC faculty, community leaders and activists came together virtually on Tuesday to discuss the current state of America following Election Day, at an event hosted by a student government committee. 

The Multicultural Affairs and Diversity Outreach Committee of the Undergraduate Executive Branch of UNC Student Government hosted the Community Dialogue, where committee members led discussions with panelists. 

Speakers were chosen by members of the committee and included Mayor of Chapel Hill Pam Hemminger and Rabbi Melissa Simon, who spoke about the importance of local elections, especially the effect on the Jewish community. 

Maya Logan and Chaz Crosby, UNC juniors and co-chairpersons of the committee, said they hoped to include a variety of perspectives, cultures and backgrounds in the panel.

Logan said they were originally supposed to host the event in the summer, but thought it would be more beneficial to have a community dialogue that included the election. They then steered the conversation to be about change during unprecedented times.

“We wanted to provide people with a platform, people who are professionals in their field, to give us, as students, tips on how we can move forward and how we can change our community for the better,” Crosby said.

Conversations covered a wide variety of topics, such as the COVID-19 pandemic, the recent election and race in America. Theodore Shaw, Julius L. Chambers distinguished professor of law at UNC School of Law, said he was grateful that it was possible to engage in the discussion.

“It was a candid and honest discussion — sometimes painful,” Shaw said.

A major focus of the night was the 2020 election and panelists' hopes for new leadership in the White House. 

Dawn Blagrove, executive director of Emancipate NC, a project of the Carolina Justice Policy Center, discussed what still needs to be done about combating hate in America.

“We have to have some real hard conversations, and they’re not going to be comfortable,” Blagrove said.

She said the fact that about 72 million people voted for Donald Trump points to the need for a conversation about race. Blagrove also said important topics of discussion for the country are the current state of the economy and the impact of COVID-19 on Americans. 

Simon spoke about the impact of local elections on Jewish communities. 

“The election of Madison Cawthorn, in western North Carolina, who is an avowed white supremacist, who went to visit Hitler’s summer home and calls him the Fuhrer, and those experiences really impact Jewish communities all across our country, but in our state as well,” she said. 

Crosby said she hopes students will remember there is still work to be done. 

“A change is going to come,” Crosby said. “The fight is not over.” 

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