WestConn to host discussion on Henry Gates incident

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DANBURY, CONN. — When a police officer arrested Dr. Henry Louis Gates at the Harvard professor’s home this summer, a national debate erupted that caught the attention of President Obama as well as everyday citizens.


Certainly another factor in the case — that the professor is African-American and the police officer is white — contributed to interest in the conversation. But the role of citizens in protecting their neighborhoods, the responsibility of police in carrying out their duties, and the limits, if any, on freedom of speech all became part of the national dialogue.


Now a panel gathered at Western Connecticut State University will attempt to put the Henry Louis Gates incident in perspective.


“The American Divide?” will be presented at 6:30 p.m. on Tuesday, Oct. 6, in Ives Concert Hall in White Hall on the WCSU Midtown campus, 181 White St., Danbury.


Dr. George Coleman, deputy commissioner of the Connecticut Department of Education, will chair the discussion.


Coleman joined the Connecticut Department of Education in 1987 as its kindergarten/primary grades consultant. Since then, he has served as the chief of the Bureau of Curriculum and Instruction and chief of the Bureau of Early Childhood Education. In 1998, he was appointed associate commissioner and currently directs the division of Teaching and Learning Programs and Services.
 
Coleman serves on many professional and community boards and councils, including state and local United Way, the Connecticut State Birth-to-Three Council, Connecticut Commission on Children and Junior Achievement. Additionally, he sits on the board of trustees of The Hord Foundation and is an adjunct professor of history at WestConn.


Also joining the panel will be Al Baker, Danbury chief of police; Glenn Cassis, executive director of the Connecticut African-American Affairs Commission; David Dear, publisher of The News-Times; Kerri Forrest, senior producer of The Early Show on CBS; Alice Hyman, community leader; Dr. Oluwole Owoye, WCSU economics professor; and Dr. Harold Schramm, WCSU professor emeritus of Justice & Law Administration.


Dr. G. Koryoe Anim-Wright, WCSU vice president for Institutional Advancement, arranged for the panel.


“Here is an incident that presents a range of topics that cut to the heart of what America is about and what Americans think of themselves and of our country,” Anim-Wright said. “Now that the media furor has abated, it is a good time to discuss fully what happened and how it affects our views. A university campus, where ideas can be debated safely and fully, is the right place to have such a discussion.”


The event is free and the public is invited. Go to www.wcsu.edu/campustour for driving directions and maps of the campus.


For more information, call the Office of University Relations at (203) 837-8486.

 

Western Connecticut State University offers outstanding faculty in a range of quality academic programs. Our diverse university community provides students an enriching and supportive environment that takes advantage of the unique cultural offerings of Western Connecticut and New York. Our vision: To be an affordable public university with the characteristics of New England’s best small private universities.

 

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