Waterloo parishes’ summer forum to examine issues of race and justice

Nikole Hannah-Jones

WATERLOO — The annual Summer Forum enrichment series sponsored by the Catholic Parishes in Waterloo will examine issues of race and racial justice in society and the church.

The series will be conducted by video conference and will be live-streamed on YouTube this year, due to concerns about the COVID-19 virus.

Rev. Abraham Funchess

Nikole Hannah-Jones, an investigative reporter for The New York Times, will be the first speaker in the series.  Her presentation, “Why Black People Are So Angry–A Historical Perspective,” will take place on Thursday, July 9, 7-8:30 p.m.

Hannah-Jones is a native of Waterloo who specializes in civil rights reporting.  She wrote the lead article for the Time’s Magazine’s “1619 Project,” a continuing series which examines American history from the perspective of slavery and the contributions of black Americans.

Other speakers in the series include Rev. Abraham Funchess, executive director of the Waterloo Human Rights Commission; Reginald Green, a member of the Evangelical Lutheran Church’s Transforming White Privilege leadership training program; and Auxiliary Bishop Joseph Perry of Chicago, who is chair of the U.S. Catholic Bishops’ Committee on African American Catholics and former vice president of the Board of the Black Catholic Congress.

Reginald Green

Rev. Funchess will address “What White People Don’t Understand About People of Color” on Thursday, July 16; Mr. Green’s presentation, “What White People Should Know About White Privilege,” is scheduled for Thursday, July 23; Bishop Perry’s presentation, “How People of Faith Must Respond to Racism” will conclude the series on Thursday, July 30.

Dave Cushing, director of adult formation for the parishes, said this year’s Summer Forum addresses a crucial issue in the spirit of the U.S. Catholic bishops’ 2018 Pastoral Letter Against Racism, “Open Wide Our Hearts.”

In the letter the bishops wrote: “To work at ending racism we need to engage the world and encounter others—to see, maybe for the first time, those who are on the peripheries of our own limited view.”

Auxiliary Bishop Joseph Perry

“This demands that we go beyond ourselves,” the bishops wrote, “opening our minds and hearts to value and respect the experiences of those who have been harmed by the evil of racism.”

The bishops urged Catholics to “fight the evil of racism by educating themselves, reflecting on their personal thoughts and actions, [and] listening to the experience of those who have been affected by racism.”

Details about the series and information on how to participate in the video conferences will be posted on the parishes’ website at:

waterloocatholics.org/summer-forum

Feature Image: Kathy Boyum and Jeffrey Edwards hug during a reconciliation revival in Minneapolis June 20, 2020. The event was part of Juneteenth, the date that honors the end to slavery in the United States. (CNS photo/Eric Miller, Reuters)