BY CANDACE HOLLINGSWORTH — A Continuing Talk on Race (A.C.T.O.R.), a monthly dialogue that started in 2006 at the original Busboys & Poets location, has come to Hyattsville.
The series was born out of owner Andy Shallal’s desire to host informal, facilitated discussions on contemporary issues of race and culture in a safe space. Extending the monthly series to the new location was a natural fit.
The idea came to some local residents over the summer, during a discussion on race, culture and stereotypes on the H.O.P.E. listserv. Though that was met with mixed reviews, it revealed strong feelings in the community.
As a result, several residents approached Shallal about hosting the discussion at Hyattsville’s newest hotspot.
On September 11, the series debuted with “Islamophobia,” a discussion that drew more than 20 people.
The next one is scheduled for Sunday, November 20, from 5 to 7 p.m. in the Howard Zinn Room. Organizers plan to hold the gatherings on the second Sunday of every other month at the same time and place. Hyattsville residents Richard and Barbara Morris, regular attendees at the A.C.T.O.R. dialogues at 14th and V streets, said they were happy to have the opportunity to participate in the discussion closer to home.
Discussions on race and culture are not new to the city. More than 10 years ago, longtime resident Robert Croslin started the Bridging Cultural Gaps book club, a group that met monthly to discuss racial and cultural themes in a literary context. The group continued for seven years and generated lasting friendships.
Hyattsville’s A.C.T.O.R. planning committee hopes the same can be said of this new endeavor.
If you are interested in helping plan upcoming discussions, contact Candace Hollingsworth at cbhollingsworth@ gmail.com or Shannon Wyss at firstname.lastname@example.org.