MSUToday
Published: Sept. 17, 2014

The Race Card Project comes to MSU

Contact(s): Jennifer Orlando Media Communications office: (517) 353-4355 cell: (517) 980-0076 Jennifer.Orlando@cabs.msu.edu

During her Sept. 15 visit to Michigan State University as part of this year’s One Book, One Community program and Project 60/50, award-winning journalist and NPR-contributor Michele Norris talked about her memoir “The Grace of Silence” and launched the MSU version of The Race Card Project at Wharton Center's World View Lecture.

TRCP, the brainchild of Norris, started as a way to encourage people to share their ideas of race during her book tour. The catch was that these thoughts had to be shared in a six-word sentence on a postcard. Because of such an overwhelming response, the “cards” are now submitted and displayed on theracecardproject.com. More than 60,000 cards have been collected.

"What you hear is people able to share their truth without fear," Norris said of the project. "Words are how we find our way to each other."

Norris and MSU have collaborated to create a unique space for people to contribute within TRCP’s site. All throughout the fall 2014 semester, MSU students, staff, faculty members, alumni and community members are invited to share their six-word thoughts and feelings to the ongoing conversations on race. People can submit their six words here.

“It forces you to think more seriously about what you want to say about race. It requires an intentionality that I don’t think many of us consider,” said Paulette Granberry Russell, senior adviser to the president for diversity and director of the Office for Inclusion and Intercultural Initiatives. "[Norris] has taken something that is often used to silence people on this issue and said ‘we’re going to empower you through six words.’

Before speaking at the World View Lecture, Norris visited the Residential College in the Arts and Humanities Theater and spoke to students.

Project 60/50 is a yearlong celebration using the 60th anniversary of Brown v. Board of Education and the 50th anniversary of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 to engage the MSU campus and greater community in a broad range of civil and human rights conversations.

The annual OBOC program, sponsored by the city of East Lansing and MSU, encourages the city-university community to experience the same works and discuss them in a variety of settings.

Michele Norris, NPR contributor and award-winning journalist, speaks to a crowd about The Race Card Project on Sept. 15 at Wharton Center. Photo by Katie Stiefel

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