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Archived Information
One America

Campus Week of Dialogue
Many Paths, One Journey: Building One America

October 10-17, 2000

Town Hall Meeting on Race


  1. What is a Town Hall meeting on race?

    A Town Hall meeting on race is a large gathering of people (e.g., 50 or more) who wish to speak about race-related issues and listen to other people's comments on race. Town Hall meetings vary in format from having no structure to having a fairly rigid structure with specific topics discussed. We recommend structured town hall meetings for the most substantive results. Town Hall meetings along will not resolve race issues but are a good first step toward identifying important issues. They are often used for developing a foundation for additional discussions.

  2. What is the purpose of a Town Hall meeting on race?

    There are a number of purposes a Town Hall meeting on race can serve: 1) To give individuals an opportunity to express their views. 2) To engage those who might otherwise discuss issues related to race, and to cultivate new leaders. 3) To provide an opportunity for people to become involved in race-related issues -- those who have been working on these types of issues may explain the importance of the issues and invite participants to join their efforts for addressing issues. 4) To provide an opportunity for groups of individuals who have been having dialogues on race issues to come together, to report, and to learn from each other's experiences.

  3. How should a Town Hall meeting be structured?

    A Town Hall meeting generally lasts from 1 1/2 hours to 3 hours. The meeting should have a dialogue leader. The dialogue leader sets initial ground rules, summarizes comments made and builds understanding among participants. The dialogue leader also can play a crucial role in welcoming diverse points of view in reminding the audience to respect opposing views. (Please refer to "The role of the Dialogue Leader" in the One America Dialogue Guide for a more detailed explanation.) This information can be found on our website at (

    A Town Hall meeting may be structured in a variety of ways. Some of the options are to begin with a an interview of one person by another, a conversation between two people, or a discussion with a number of people on stage and then open the discussion to comments and questions from the audience. (Please refer to the One America Dialogue Guide (available at ( for detailed suggestions for setting up discussions on race with a small group of people.)

    If your goal is to encourage participation by those who would not usually participate in race-related events, consider featuring a prominent individual at the Town Hall meeting who people believe would be interesting or whose views on race are provocative, entertaining, or otherwise interesting. This individual would share his or her views on race and respond to comments from the audience.

  4. What are some issues of which to be aware?

    It is important to have people representing a wide variety of viewpoints participating in and attending the Town Hall meeting. Outreach to those who might not normally participate in race-related events is particularly important.

    • It is likely that a number of people will not have a chance to speak at the Town Hall meeting, which they may find frustrating. You may want to provide additional or alternate opportunities for people to state their opinions.
  1. What are some possible concrete outcomes from a Town Hall meeting on race?

    We hope that your town hall meeting on race will result in concrete outcomes. While these outcomes could take many forms, we suggest the following:

    • Commit to holding on-going dialogues on your campus in small groups that provide more opportunity for thoughtful discussion and exchange of ideas.

    • Organize dialogues and other events (such as community service events) that can help to bridge racial divides.

    • Use the Campus Dialogue feedback form (available on the web at ( to report about lessons learned and recommendations for the President. We will share your feedback with the President.

If you have any questions, please contact Donald Conner, Campus Week of Dialogue Team, at (202) 502-7818, or email at , or ReShone Moore at (202) 502-7893.