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Media project aims to promote racial discourse on campus

| Thursday, January 31, 2019

The Klau Center for Civil and Human Rights and the Gallivan Program in Journalism, Ethics and Democracy are collaborating to launch a project recording members of the Notre Dame community on the topic of race called “With Voices True.”

Richard Jones, director of the Gallivan Program in Journalism, Ethics and Democracy, said the project gives the University the opportunity to reflect on Notre Dame’s racial climate while following in the footsteps of previous University initiatives.

“[The project] involves collecting and preserving voices of those in our community as they offer their thoughts and perspectives and opinions on the racial climate and issues concerning race here on campus,” Jones said. “We think — given the legacy of [University President Emeritus] Fr. Ted [Hesburgh], given the mission of the University, given what we try to do as journalists — it is a project that really is aligned with the kinds of things we like to be working on, focusing on and raising awareness about.”

Director of the Klau Center for Civil and Human Rights Jennifer Mason McAward said the collection of recordings will assist in opening a discourse on race at Notre Dame.

“The most important goal is to just get people engaging with the question of race and what it means in their lives, so we want to talk about it,” McAward said. “We think there’s real value in having people articulate their experiences, and we want people to listen to it and experience it because having that dialogue will just enrich the conversation.”

The project is going to be presented digitally in a multimedia format, Jones said, and there are hopes that the project will be made accessible online.

“It will probably be a range of media, audio and video text, and some of that will likely be driven by the people with whom we speak and some of that may be driven by the expertise of those collecting the voices,” Jones said. “ … There have been some discussions in making it available online, in a website, and I think that feels like a natural fit for this kind of project, especially given the multimedia, digital media aspect of it.”

While the project is still in its early stages, Jones said he is excited to ramp up operations and begin working with members of the Notre Dame community.

“We’re going to really begin in the next month or so in terms of the collection, and we hope that by the end of the semester we’ll have the beginnings of a really nice repository,” he said. “We are eager to not only work with the Klau Center, but also to work with the members of our community on this project as well. They’ve put out a call for members of the community to take part in this project, and we’d like to certainly reinforce that call and let folks know that we’re open to hearing their stories in whatever form they may take.”

Jones said students from the Gallivan Program will assist with the program by collecting data.

“As a journalism educator, I am very excited about the opportunity for our students to build their skills as interviewers, to build their skills using digital media and to have a sense and appreciation to be a part of life on campus that not a lot of us talk about,” he said.

“With Voices True” is ultimately an attempt to build a common understanding of race through which the Notre Dame community can grow together, McAward said.

“We hope it’s going to strengthen our community and help people understand each other in a new way and a deeper way and to build our Notre Dame community,” she said. “We hope it’ll be beneficial for every person on campus to participate in this in one way or another.”

People who want to participate in the project can express their interest at klau.nd.edu/voicestrue.

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