Memory, legacy & social change

April 2015 marks 150 years since Emancipation and the end of the American Civil War, as well as the 50th anniversary of the Selma-to-Montgomery Civil Rights march and the passing of the Voting Rights Act. Despite great strides toward racial healing, the wounds of history and systemic racism and discrimination along ethnic or religious lines continue to hinder efforts to build healthy, inclusive communities in societies around the world.

What can we, as a global community, learn about how to heal history, understand the legacies that keep us apart and generate energy for building healthy inclusive societies?

The conference seeks to build trust and constructive partnerships across race, class, politics and religion through honest conversation. It will make explicit the link between change in individuals’ attitudes and behaviors and change in the structures of society.

Who will attend:

Racial healing and equity practitioners, scholars, grassroots leaders, students, representatives from business and government, and participants from South Africa, Mexico, UK, Netherlands, Cambodia, Egypt, India, Canada, Brazil and from cities across the US who are grappling with similar issues.

Join the global conversation:

The sessions will focus on themes of international relevance

  • Plenaries on connecting history, memory and social change; addressing implicit bias and inequity; and creating strategies for mobilization.
  • Breakout sessions on the  role of museums and public history sites; community wealth building and inclusive economies;  identity, immigration and citizenship; the social determinants of health; and overcoming inequities in education, housing, criminal justice systems and other areas of public policy.  
  • Interaction with the community through dialogues and visits to historical sites.
  • Networking opportunities with smaller groups to process topics more deeply through stories, personal reflection and relationship building.
Why Richmond?

Despite its history of slavery, its role as capital of the Confederacy and a leader of Massive Resistance to integration, metropolitan Richmond has become a seedbed for racial healing, dialogue and teambuilding across traditional divides. It provided a model for racial healing for the country in 1993 with the first “walk through history” and Virginia was the first state to apologize for its support of slavery. Richmond’s recent commitment to address the growing challenge of poverty and structural inequality has made national news. The conference will encourage this work in progress by sharing best practices and global perspectives.

Metropolitan Richmond Host Committee


Activities will take place at the University of Richmond, Virginia Commonwealth University, and the Library of Virginia as well as at historical sites associated with the city’s racial history. Hotel rooms have been reserved at the Omni Hotel in downtown Richmond for out-of-town guests. Transportation between event locations will be provided.

Download the invitation