A Discussion with Dr. Charles Chavis
Dr. Charles L. Chavis, Jr. is an author, filmmaker, activist, and professor. He is the author of the ground-breaking book The Silent Shore: The Lynching of Matthew Williams and the Politics of Racism in the Free State, which was praised by Sherrilyn Ifill, President NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc., as a story that “resonates with power and caution for our contemporary efforts to address racial violence and discrimination."
On December 4, 1931, a mob of white men in Salisbury, Maryland, lynched and set ablaze a twenty-three-year-old Black man named Matthew Williams. His gruesome murder was part of a wave of silent white terrorism in the wake of the stock market crash of 1929, which exposed Black laborers to white rage in response to economic anxieties. For nearly a century, the lynching of Matthew Williams has lived in the shadows of the more well-known incidents of racial terror in the deep South, haunting both the Eastern Shore and the state of Maryland as a whole. The Silent Shore is currently being adapted into a documentary series and has helped spark the creation of a Truth, Racial Unity, Transformation and Healing (TRUTH) Advisory Committee in Salisbury, MD. The 13-member body will provide recommendations to the Mayor concerning ways by which the City may further its mission of welcoming and embracing diversity, equity & inclusion by continuing to create a more just and equitable community.
Dr. Chavis is Director of African & African American Studies, founding Director of the John Mitchell, Jr. Program for History, Justice, & Race, at The Jimmy and Rosalynn Carter School for Peace and Conflict Resolution, and Assistant Professor of History and Conflict Resolution at George Mason University. Dr. Chavis is National Co-Chair for the United States Truth Racial Healing and Transformation Movement and Vice Chair of the Maryland Lynching Truth and Reconciliation Commission. He also serves on PBS’s Exploring Hate Advisory Committee.
Discussants and moderators TBD.
This virtual conversation is hosted by Princeton Bridging Divides Initiative as part of National Week of Conversation, a week of events and activities that showcase the power and potential of bridging.
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