On April 2, 2019 the Hampton Roads Community Foundation will bring the Hampton Roads community a special screening of America to Me to Norfolk State University’s L. Douglas Wilder Performing Arts Center in Norfolk, Virginia.
This will be the second Understanding Hampton Roads forum sponsored by the community foundation in its quest to advance civic engagement in southeastern Virginia. Its partners for the forum are Norfolk State University and its Robert C. Nusbaum Honors College. Norfolk Southern Corporation is presenting sponsor.
Following the screening, the event will culminate with a dynamic panel discussion featuring a diverse group of Hampton Road representatives who will explore the intersection of race, equity and education locally. We invite you to learn more about panelist Rodney Jordan in this close-up:
Rodney Jordan is the chief community engagement officer for McKinley Megginson Group, an area technology company. He has served on the Norfolk Public Schools board since 2012 and is its former chair. He serves as board liaison to the Norfolk Council of PTAs and Council of Great City Schools. He is a founder of Norfolk United Facing Race.
He is president-elect of the Virginia School Boards Association and chaired its Tidewater Region board. He currently leads its Task Force on Schools in Challenged Environments. He graduated from First Colonial High School in Virginia Beach and is the father of two daughters who graduated from Norfolk's Granby High School.
Q: Why is this topic and conversation so timely?
Our region is home to great racial diversity yet is also home to great racial inequity. Far too often we believe inequities such as racial wealth gaps and education opportunity gaps are formed by individual choices alone. We ignore, choose to ignore, and find comfort in our ignorance of or denial of government action and policies that created the inequities and preserve and protect them. I’m hoping this discussion can help lead to better outcomes for all children and families in Hampton Roads.
Q: How does this documentary relate to Hampton Roads & what can we learn from it?
My K-12 exposure and experience is not unlike many in the documentary. My daughters also had similar experiences. Massive Resistance was replaced with Massive Persistence — at least in Norfolk and I believe across our region. To have my children’s children find themselves addressing the same issue years from now is a path I wish to avoid them experiencing.
That is why it is so important to have conversations about racial and economic equity in all areas such as housing and wealth. It is also especially important in education because greater than 90% of all students in our country attend public schools. The social and economic costs of racial and economic inequity are tremendous and as our population ages, our economy will rely upon Americans of all backgrounds stepping into a workforce that values critical thinking skills and teamwork and collaboration. No other institution than our public education system is in better position to meet that demand.
Learn more and register now to join us at this April 2 special event to build understanding and inspire action that brings people together to help improve life in our region.
Is Racism Learned:
This WAVY TV segment from 1999 focused on similar themes also features Jordan’s eldest daughter as one of the pre-kindergarten children shown participating in a socioeconomically diverse environment that was intentionally chosen for the students.