The first Unmasking Hampton Roads session last Thursday brought diverse people from our region to Virginia Beach for a short play, thought-provoking conversation and a shared meal -- all to better understand race and racism in the Hampton Roads region.

There is still room for you to join the conversation by attending the second and third Unmasking sessions this Thursday and Saturday in Virginia Beach at Old Donation School (4633 Honeygrove Rd). Or, sign up for the entire three-part November series in Portsmouth. Unmasking Hampton Roads is sponsored by the Hampton Roads Community Foundation and Virginia Humanities. There is no charge to attend the learning sessions.

The Thursday, October 17 session in Virginia Beach will be from 7 to 9 p.m. It will feature a panel discussion moderated by Anita Blanton, WAVY News 10 anchor followed by a Q&A session.

The panel will include:
  • Julian Baena, president of the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce of Coastal Virginia.
  • Dr. Amelia Ross-Hammond, founder and chairman of the African American Cultural Center of Virginia Beach.
  • Dr. Patricia Turner, retired Norfolk Public Schools educator and a member of the Norfolk 17, the group of Black students who desegregated Norfolk Public Schools in 1959.
  • Khayla Walker, peer facilitator and alumnus of Teens with a Purpose and spoken word artist.
  • Forrest “Hap” White, author of Black, White and Brown: The Battle for Progress in 1950s Norfolk.
  • Lavell White, a Virginia Beach City Public Schools school guidance counselor and motivational speaker.

The Saturday, October 19 session in Virginia Beach will be from 10 a.m. to 12 noon and will include diversity and inclusion training and a bias workshop facilitated by Virginia Center for Inclusive Communities.

Register here for the October 17 and 19 sessions at Old Donation School.

Next month's Unmasking series will be on November 14, 21 and 23 at Tidewater Community College's Portsmouth campus (120 Campus Drive). Register here to attend. Part one will feature a short play, the “Abolitionist Museum” by Sheri Bailey and Company. Afterwards, attendees will engage in facilitated small group discussions during dinner. Part two will be a panel discussion featuring community leaders and a public Q&A session. Part three will be an intensive training on diversity, inclusion and bias facilitated by Virginia Center for Inclusive Communities.

Photos by Irene Aquino Davis