The first of four Community Connections panels centering on race relations is scheduled to take place at 7 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 1 in McKinnon Hall.

The topic of the Elon University and Burlington Times-News-sponsored panel is “Improving Race Relations in America.”

Jason Husser, assistant professor of political science and policy studies, will moderate the discussion that includes four panelists–Jim Bissett, professor of history, Barrett Brown, NAACP of Alamance County president, Patrice Fields, St. Matthew’s AME Church pastor and Tony Foriest, a former state senator and retired business executive.

“Many members of the Alamance County and Elon University community have expressed a desire for a civil, authentic conversation about the ways to understand and improve race relations in the United States,” Husser said in a story on E-net.

Unlike past years, during which each forum centered around a different topic, all four discussions of the 2015-2016 year will center on an aspect of race in the United States’ past, present and future.

Madison Taylor, executive editor of the Times-News, recently wrote a column in which he described why the topic of race relations was chosen for all four forums, not just one.

“Last month we decided our first forum topic would be Race Relations,” Taylor wrote. “But after a few minutes of discussion on Monday, we quickly determined that a single one-hour forum would hardly be enough to cover such a complex subject and quickly decided to make Race Relations the theme for all of our forums this coming school year. This offers a great opportunity for a running discussion about what is arguably the most important issue in America today.”

This year marks the third year that Elon partnered with The Times-News to discuss methods to improve local and national issues.

Last year, three forums were held that centered on the topics of domestic violence, the future of the area and the issue of hunger.

The event, which is scheduled to run 7-8:15 p.m., is free and open to the public. In his column, Taylor said in hopes to have a wide range of views at the event, planners even considered offering transportation for people located outside of Elon’s campus.

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