Development of the Anti-Racism Community Collaborative (ARCC) Timeline:
- The Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Association (MLK Jr. Association) is founded in Westfield (NJ) to keep Dr. King’s legacy and wisdom alive in the community and in the town schools.
2009 – 2010
- Social Justice Matters (SJM) is founded in response to the distribution of an offensive and racist flyer distributed in Scotch Plains and Fanwood. SJM members commit to continuing education and discussion about race in the community.
2014 – 2015
- In the wake of national events, including the deaths of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri and Eric Garner in Staten Island, New York, SJM is invited to organize a series of community events with local public libraries. These “How Did We Get to Today?” public discussions provide the impetus for Social Justice Matters to expand its reach into the community.
- The Summit (NJ) Interfaith Council forms an Anti-Racism Committee. It begins offering Dialogue Circles on Race twice a year to the Summit-area community.
- The MLK Jr. Association organizes a Westfield (NJ) Town Forum to highlight and discuss the role of race in its predominately White community. Panelists and audience members agree that there are indeed unexplored issues about race and that more dialogue is needed.
- Three MLK Jr. Association members invite SJM leaders to collaborate in bringing to their neighboring communities the Dialogue Circles on Race programming developed in Summit.
- MLK Jr. Association and SJM
- The Anti-Racism Community Collaborative (ARCC) is formed.
- ARCC receives an Incubation Grant from the New Jersey Council for the Humanities and funding from The Westfield Foundation to enhance the Dialogue Circles on Race curriculum and to offer a pilot Dialogue Circles on Race “semester” to the three communities (i.e., Fanwood, Scotch Plains and Westfield). In addition, ARCC proposes sponsoring two additional educational community events.
- Dialogue Circles on Race continue in Summit. Summit Interfaith Council Anti- Racism Committee members develop a second, more advanced curriculum. As of mid-2019, more than 400 participants experienced Dialogue Circles since their beginnings in 2015.
- ARCC offers two Dialogue Circle Groups, one in Westfield and one in Scotch Plains. Thirty community members sign up. Evaluations are extremely positive.
- ARCC sponsors a public educational event about the hyper-local history, both White and Black, of eastern Union County, NJ. (“The Secrets of Shady Rest: Hometown Stories in Black and White, Hidden in Plain Sight.”) More than 65 people attend, and the event is very well-received. Audience members are encouraged to become “citizen historians” themselves to investigate the complete history of their communities.