*Update: Due to technical difficulties, the premiere of this has been postponed to 5:30 p.m. on Friday, Aug. 28.
Like for so many others, watching as a man sworn to protect his fellow citizens kneeled the life out of George Floyd, hearing Floyd plead minute after minute for his mother, was excruciatingly unforgettable.
That viral video broke through the film of privileged avoidance and has opened the door to an international outcry for change in the country with how Black Americans and people of color are treated. The momentum for racial reconciliation has led to conversations more open than many have said they've seen since the '60s.
The Sumter Item, being a 125-year-old newspaper that prints five days a week and has the region's largest digital presence for local news, a video production department and a podcast network, has been here to record and explain history.
We realized this is a moment we can't let slip away. We can be a voice for the community that wants to come together to learn and grow. We can amplify important voices and serve as a platform to initiate conversation that can lead to action.
Premiering Friday, Aug. 28, at 5:30 p.m., The Sumter Item will present the first episode of Community Conversations. This video and podcast series will cover topics of interest that are timely and important. The primary topic as the series begins will look at race, bringing in a group of panelists each episode who discuss their own experiences and talk about their hopes for growth.
During this first episode, An Introduction to Being Black in Sumter and America, viewers and listeners will meet six people who live in Sumter. Filmed with social distancing in mind at the Sumter Opera House, the panelists, Melanie Colclough, Angela Frederick, Rashad Hilton, Travis Johnson, Breanne Moore and Ricky Simmons, share their thoughts on what it means to be Black in America and talk with each other about how they feel about this moment in our country and what they want to see moving forward.
The episode will air on The Sumter Item's Facebook via Facebook Watch. That means everyone can watch it air in real time, and panelists will also be watching and available to answer questions from and interact with viewers through the comments section on Facebook. The forum was moderated by The Sumter Item's Kayla Green and local Realtor Sarah Jane Gibson, who hosts a weekly podcast on The Sumter Item Podcast Network called In Sumter With Sarah Jane.
Go to www.Facebook.com/TheItem to watch. After the episode airs live, it will be posted to Facebook and to TheItem.com, as well as on the In Sumter With Sarah Jane and The Sumter Item's News Without Ink podcast.
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