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Assembly Puts Divisive Issue in Historical Context
Assembly Puts Divisive Issue in Historical Context

On Thursday, October 5, Winsor welcomed Professor Nina Silber of Boston University to lead a discussion on recent events sparked by the dismantling of Confederate statues. Echoing the perspective she shared in a recent article that appeared in the Washington Post, the Civil War expert and noted author turned to historical fact to provide context and a framework for navigating today's tumultuous times.

Setting the stage for the assembly, Head of School Sarah Pelmas recounted how the events in Charlottesville "struck the adults in this community very hard and to the core," underscoring the need to create a forum to "talk about what happened and how we got to this point." Layered with other recent events, Ms. Pelmas acknowledged how confusing and scary it can be to watch people with "bad intentions ... and with full intent to carry out evil. It's something we are all struggling with, and it's part of why we brought the speaker here today."

Leslie Moukheiber '19 introduced Dr. Silber, recalling a morning in Julian Braxton's history class last spring that "opened my eyes even more to the complexity of race in this country." The class watched as the Mayor of New Orleans delivered an impassioned speech calling for the removal of the Confederate monuments. "I was inspired by every word. It was so courageous to be so truthful."

"When I got home, my mom and I had a long discussion about the speech...and how many people in this country do not have the courage to talk about race," Leslie shared. "By discussing the topic and by learning about it in class, we are putting emphasis on the issue...we are making the removal of Confederate statues an important movement in our society...and we are making sure that it is being discussed by everyone."

Using a Q&A format to address a few of the most common questions on students' minds, Dr. Silber, who teaches history and American Studies at B.U., emphasized why "it is important for us to take time to reflect on [the recent series of events]. They raise many concerns, including the role of free speech in a democracy, the role our leaders play, and how and why the country has become so divided."

"From my point of view, this assembly is just another example of how we come together as a community to tackle difficult issues," notes Julian Braxton, Winsor's director of community and multicultural affairs. "The insightful information, reflections, and the thoughtful questions during and after the assembly are critical in helping us process the issues of the day and engage with challenging ideas."

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