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“With Voices True”: Klau Center aims to collect race narratives through online platform

| Wednesday, January 22, 2020

On Tuesday, the Klau Center for Civil and Human Rights held an event in Hesburgh Library to launch “With Voices True,”  an online platform designed to collect the stories of numerous Notre Dame students, staff and faculty. The Klau Center for Civil and Human Rights is an institution based out of the Keough School of Global Affairs that focuses on promoting civil rights through academics, research and public events. 

John Salem | The Observer

Kevin Fye, the communications program manager at Notre Dame’s Klau Center, speaks at the Tuesday launch of With Voices True,” a new initiative designed to facilitate conversations about race on campus.

Kevin Fye, the communications program manager at the Klau Center, said “With Voices True” was created to facilitate conversation.

“[We want to] encourage people to listen to one another and to really come into contact with the broadest cross section of thoughts and opinions,” he said. “Our feeling is that solutions come from a place of understanding.”

In monologues, participants reflected on how their race affected their lives at Notre Dame in an effort to encourage community members to reflect on their own personal experience on campus. 

“We wanted to give people something to contribute to and let themselves be heard and also give people a place to go to discover thoughts and viewpoints that they haven’t encountered before,” Fye said. 

The launch event consisted of a short presentation, followed by a four-person panel consisting of Notre Dame student and faculty speakers. During the panel, the panelists described what steps were taken to create the program and what steps must be taken in order for it to reach a broader audience. 

After the conclusion of the panel, audience members were invited to create their own monologues about their experiences with race in one of Hesburgh Library’s media rooms.

Rachel Gagnon, a Notre Dame graduate student and Klau Center student affiliate, is one of many students who recorded a monologue for “With Voices True.”

“I hope the program increases people’s knowledge of race relations, civil rights and equality,” she said.

“With Voices True” is also focused on compiling a wide variety of experiences for potential researchers, Fye said.

“The full transcript of these interviews are kept in the Notre Dame archives which will be built into a robust research resource for people doing research on racial attitudes over time,” Fye said.

The program is not only focused on individual use, but has the potential to be used in the classroom as well.

“As the project progresses and is used in more classrooms, we hope to learn the ways that it gets used and perhaps we can offer prompts to instructors for how to use it,” Fye said. “There’s a lot of value in presenting different viewpoints as a conversation starter.”

The opportunity to record and release your own monologues is available to all members of the Notre Dame community. Information is available at the Klau Center’s webpage.

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