WSU celebrates National Day of Racial Healing

drum circle performance
Drum Circle Performance at Terrell Library Atrium that included students, staff, and faculty participants for National Day of Racial Healing on the campus of Washington State University, Tuesday, January, 17, 2023.

Washington State University will celebrate the National Day of Racial Healing for the second time on Jan. 16.

The National Day of Racial Healing, established in 2017, aims to bring people together to reflect on shared values, build relationships based on trust and mutual respect, and create a blueprint for healing from the effects of racism. It’s observed the day after Martin Luther King, Jr. Day to allow people to further draw upon the life lessons of the famed civil rights leader who used nonviolent resistance and civil disobedience to protest segregation and racial inequality during the 1950s and 1960s.

WSU’s National Day of Racial Healing committee is led by Trymaine Gaither, special assistant to the provost.

“The National Day of Racial Healing provides all of us with a critical opportunity to engage with each other, have healing conversations, and build community,” said Elizabeth Chilton, provost, executive vice president, and WSU Pullman chancellor. “I am grateful for Trymaine and the entire National Day of Racial Healing committee for bringing this important programming to WSU.”

Throughout the WSU System, the National Day of Racial Healing will be observed with myriad activities, including virtual opening and closing ceremonies. The opening ceremony includes a virtual panel discussion on truth, racial healing, and transformation across the WSU system. It will be livestreamed via Zoom and facilitated by Clif Stratton, vice chancellor for academic engagement. Registration for the event is available online.

Faculty panelists are: Alan Malfavon of the Department of History, Betty Wilson of the Department of Human Development, and Jacqueline Wilson of the School of Music.

“We are excited to kick off the day’s events with a conversation among a group of WSU faculty whose scholarship and teaching collectively represent an energetic commitment to advancing anti-racism,” Stratton said.

WSU began celebrating the National Day of Racial Healing in 2023. This year’s celebration includes a poetry reading and open mic program on the WSU Pullman campus in response to the theme of the day: “Tell the Story, Heal the Heart.”

The “Writers Give Voice” event features creative writing students and faculty and student editors of WSU creative writing publications. All students, faculty, staff, and community members are invited to bring a poem to read during the open mic portion.

“Poetry asks us to listen to the world, ourselves, and others,” said Cameron McGill, scholarly assistant professor in the WSU Department of English and co-director of the Visiting Writers Series. He’s organizing the reading and open mic as well as co-leading a creative writing and mindfulness workshop for the National Day of Racial Healing.

Poetry, he said, “puts us in conversation with one another.”

Additional activities include healing circles, mental health support spaces, and more. WSU Pullman is planning an in-person drum circle, in-person and livestreamed recreational classes, and creativity and arts workshops, including a macramé class. WSU Everett will also host a macramé class. WSU Tri-Cities will offer a reflective writing workshop and an “Art for Healing” presentation, along with other activities. WSU Vancouver will host somatic abolitionist workshops as well as a performance and reception. Somatic abolitionism explores how the body expresses deeply painful experiences and applies mind-body healing to aid with trauma recovery.

Visit the National Day of Racial Healing website for more information about the celebration and a schedule of activities.

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