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New Project Will Study Diversity Efforts Nationwide

By Samuel Y. Weinstock, Contributing Writer

The Charles Hamilton Houston Institute for Race and Justice at Harvard Law School announced last week that it will begin a new project to visit and document communities around the country undergoing efforts to promote diversity—racially, culturally, and linguistically.

The project, entitled “One Nation Indivisible,” is in conjunction with the Poverty and Race Research Action Council (PRRAC), a Washington civil rights policy organization.

“By telling and spreading stories about integration efforts ... we hope to better harness the potential of diversity and win more support for pro-integration policies and programming on local, state, and national levels,” the institute said in a press release.

Susan E. Eaton, research director of the Charles Hamilton House Institute, will serve as co-director of the project along with Gina Chirichigno of the PRRAC. Eaton said that the project would publicize the communities studied through written narratives, videos, presentations, and conventions with national experts. The organizers also hope to hold one large national conference, most likely in the Capitol in the spring, Eaton added.

“I’m trying to combine the rigor of academia with storytelling.” she said.

Eaton explained that the motivation for the project originated from her previous work with the institute, as well as research showing the harm of racial segregation and the benefits of racial integration efforts.

She said that it is necessary for communities to “move past assimilation and move to true integration that is mutually beneficial.”

The project will include communities across the country, from Framingham, Mass., to Portland, Ore., to Dalton, Ga.

Eaton said that she hoped the project will provide a widely accessible look into diversity initiatives around the country.

“We realized there are a lot of people who are saying integration is important, [but there are] not a lot of concrete examples we can point to,” Eaton said. “It should be celebrated and understood.”

Eaton said that while the project will recognize practical solutions to issues of segregation, it does not have direct political goals.

“Our goal isn’t necessarily to lobby,” Eaton said. “Our goal is that this will have an influence on policy [and] move these stories into national discourse.”

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