February is Black History Month, and there are a number of local endeavors to help educate the general public about the achievements of African Americans and important events from history.

We hear about some of those, and discuss how to improve how African American history is taught in schools. In studio:

  • Tianna Manon, editor-in-chief of Open Mic Rochester, and freelance reporter for WXXI News
  • Lesli Myers-Small, Ed.D., superintendent of the Brockport Central School District
  • Jason Willis, Ph.D., director of African-American studies at the Rochester City School District
  • Chris Thompson, comedian, engineer, and activist

The annual Susan B. Anthony Luncheon set for later this month will welcome Dr. Irma McClaurin as its keynote speaker. McClaurin is a feminist anthropologist and author who writes about race, diversity, and social justice.

We preview her presentation with a conversation about the value of diversity, how to find bonds of commonality, and how to better understand – and eliminate – social disparities. Our guests:

Jerome Underwood was named the new president and CEO of Action for a Better Community in January 2018. Prior to leading the organization, he served on its board for nearly a decade.

Underwood has been an outspoken advocate for underrepresented groups in the Rochester community. He joins us in studio for the hour to discuss the future of ABC, how the current discourse regarding race may impact his work, and how he hopes his organization can counteract poverty in our area.

Martin Kaufman/WXXI News

Mayor Lovely Warren is holding a series of events focusing on racial healing this week beginning with an event at City Hall on Tuesday.

Project Let’s Get REAL -- which stands for Race, Equity and Leadership -- seeks to advance racial equity through policy decisions, civic engagement, and accurate portrayals of people of color.

Speaking after the Martin Luther King Jr. Community-Wide Celebration at the Eastman Theater on Monday, Warren said the racial divide in this country is deep and there’s much work left to do.

Talking about race is difficult for many people. Jackie Campbell of the Children’s Agenda specializes in helping people sit down together and open their hearts and minds. Her approach has led to some emotional and powerful breakthroughs. We asked her to share how she does it.

Campbell joins us in studio for the hour with her colleagues from Table 23, a small group of community members who meet to discuss issues surrounding race. Our guests:

  • Jackie Campbell, director of ROC the Future at The Children’s Agenda, and member of Table 23
  • Alan Ziegler, member of the Rochester Area Business Ethics Foundation, and member of Table 23
  • Heidi Zimmer-Meyer, president of the Rochester Downtown Development Corporation, and member of Table 23

Brett Dahlberg / WXXI News

A Rochester startup is looking to solve a medical problem with a global scope. VisualDx is building a database of what diseases look like on all skin colors, in an effort to correct persistent racial inequalities in diagnosis.

Scientists have known for decades about racial inequalities in access to medical care. A landmark 1985 report from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, for example, found that minority Americans lived further from doctors and had less ability to pay for medical care compared to white people.

Brighton Town Board member Robin Wilt announced last week that she was dropping out of the race for New York State Assembly due to concerns about alleged racism in Brighton. Wilt says she made the decision to focus her energies on the town after a 14-year-old Brighton High School student posted a video on YouTube that alleged systemic racism in the district. The student, Keniyah Vickers, is the daughter of Wilt’s campaign manager, Wynette Vickers.

Wilt and Vickers join us in studio for the hour.

The ROC2Change Student Summit on Race is among the most recent examples of youth activism in our community. The summit at Churchville-Chili High School brought together hundreds of students from across Monroe County to address racial disparities and racism in schools.

We talk to students who participated in the event about what they learned about implicit bias, and how they plan to address discrimination in their daily lives. We also discuss what it means to be a youth activist in this current political climate. In studio:

  • Jocelyn Hernandez, senior at Churchville-Chili High School
  • Asha Charles, junior at Churchville-Chili High School
  • Amari Conyers, senior at Churchville-Chili High School
  • Jason Cline, assistant principal and facilitator of the ROC2Change Student Summit on Race at Churchville-Chili High School

When police arrested two black men for not ordering a drink at Starbucks, it sparked discussions across the country about bias and discrimination. At Connections, we've heard from many people of color who explain that the Starbucks arrests are not new or unusual.

This hour, we have a discussion about how common this type of incident is, and the damage it does. Our guests:

A recent piece in the Atlantic Monthly explores the efforts parents of color are making to shield their children from negative stereotypes. It highlights how many parents curate books, entertainment, and toys -- either eliminating or adding certain types of media -- with the goal of empowering their children and exposing them to positive images of characters that look like them. Parents say it's a challenge, and the results are mixed.

We hear from local parents who share their experiences and what they hope will change. Our guests: 

  • Leslie C. Youngblood, author of Love Like Sky, and aunt
  • Pastor Darryl E. Carter, senior pastor at JHKM Inc., and parent
  • Rodney Fields, parent
  • Shaun Nelms, associate professor at the Warner School of Education at the University of Rochester, superintendent of East High School, and parent