New Orleans-based community organizers and core trainers Barbara Major and Diana Dunn of the People’s Institute for Survival and Beyond will be facilitators for the two-day “Getting to the Root” workshop April 26 and 27 at the Coretta Scott King Center. (Submitted photos)

‘Getting to the Root’ Returns to the Coretta Scott King Center

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For over 40 years, The People’s Institute for Survival and Beyond, PISAB, “a national, multiracial, anti-racist collective of organizers and educators,” has been working with the aim to “undo racism and other forms of oppression” in the United States, reaching thousands of people since the organization’s inception.

This year, two of the New Orleans-based institute’s veteran trainers, PISAB co-founder Diana Dunn and anti-racist Barbara Major, will be on hand along with Coretta Scott King Center Director Shadia Alvarez to train individuals from local community organizations during a two-day “Getting to the Root” workshop on April 26 and 27, 9 a.m.–4 p.m., at the Coretta Scott King Center on the Antioch College campus.

Historian and anti-racist organizer David Billings will also present at the workshop. Billings is an ordained Methodist minister based in New York and has spent the last 50 years doing civil rights work.

The purpose of the workshop is to strengthen “current anti-racism, diversity, equity and inclusion efforts in the region.”

On the first day of Getting to the Root, participants will “analyze the construction of racism, the construction of whiteness, and what it means, as well as look at both the historical and the contemporary impact of racism,” Coretta Scott King Center Executive Director Shadia Alvarez told the News in a recent interview. “Then on the second day, we talk about how to organize against [racism], how to dismantle it, and what are the things that we can do as everyday citizens to undo the damages of racism over time.”

The workshop returns as an in-person event on campus after going virtual because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

A key component of PISAB work is to move beyond the symptoms of racism, and according to the PISAB mission statement on the organization website, they do so through a “national, multiracial, anti-racist collective of organizers and educators,” utilizing the organization’s trademarked “Undoing Racism®/Community Organizing Workshops, technical/human assistance and partnerships, to support nationwide community efforts” to undo the causes of racism.

According to Alvarez, Getting to the Root’s own roots were “born out of PISAB,” whose roots were in turn, born out of the Yellow Springs nonprofit and human rights organization, H.U.M.A.N. — Help Us Make a Nation.

H.U.M.A.N. was formed in 1978 following a human rights conference held at Antioch College and was founded by Antioch professors William D. Chappelle and James N. Dunn and community activist Glynna Garrett.  PISAB was founded by the late James N. Dunn, his wife, Diana Dunn, and civil rights leader the Rev. C.T. Vivian in 1980.

Continue reading over at Yellow Springs News.

Words by Cheryl Durgans.

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