The Central District Forum presents the next installment of its discussion series, Which Way Seattle? Black Elected Officials, on Oct. 23, at 7 p.m. at Pigott Auditorium at Seattle University, 900 Broadway.
Forum Program Director Denee McCloud says the series, and the event, are part of a larger effort to create dialogue around critical issues.
"We're looking at questions around individuals in the Black community," she says. "What role do we play in allowing Black officials to legislate and direct issues beyond what is perceived as a Black community issue?"
A panel of local leaders will explore whether or not political representation makes a difference in the many issues faced by the community and address how racial politics impact a candidate's platform.
"I think our discussion really is a broad discussion around the idea of, is there such a thing as a post-racial politician in America? And also how Black elected officials avoid being seen as a spokesperson for the Black community rather than an actual legislator, a representative of their broader constituents," McCloud says.
"We're looking at a much higher level at how does racial politics impact the candidates' platform," she said. "We just want the broader picture of what it means to be a candidate in this country today, in this very multiracial environment."
Moderator will be Christian M. Halliburton, associate professor of law at Seattle University School of Law. Panelists include Rosalund Jenkins, executive director of the Washington State Commission on African-American Affairs; Darryl Smith, former president of the Rainier Chamber of Commerce; and Rep. Eric Pettigrew.
"We're also going to look at the issue of whether having a Black elected official results in concrete positive change in the Black community, and can that change be measured," McCloud says. "Does it change housing issues, does it change issues that impact our communities?"
The discussion continues after the event with an informal gathering at the Grey Gallery and Lounge, 1512 11th Ave.
For those interested in reading more about the issue, the Forum website includes a link to a reading list on the Seattle Douglass Sojourner Library website.
The Central District Forum was founded in 1999 to present and produce programs on African American culture. The next event for Which Way Seattle? will be an examination of Afro-Mestizo identity, looking at the hidden histories of African presence in Mexico. It is part of the group's American Heritage Series.
That event is Thursday, Dec. 4, 7 p.m. at the Northwest African American Museum, 2300 South Massachusetts St.
Moderator is Ileana M. Rodriguez-Silva, Ph.D, assistant professor of Latin American and Caribbean History at the University of Washington.
More upcoming events include a staged reading of the works of Martin Luther King Jr. in January of 2009, and an array of theater productions. The next Which Way Seattle? event is called "The Black Face of Hip Hop." Co-sponsored by the Dope Emporium, that discussion is Thursday, Feb. 19, 2009, at the Langston Hughes Performing Arts Center.
Admission cost for the Oct. 23 panel discussion is $7 for general admission, $5 for students and seniors — or pay what you can, McCloud says. "Because we know that everyone is in a pinch, and this is such an important conversation to have that we want to make sure everyone in our community can attend."
For more information, visit http://www.cdforum.org or call 206-323-4032.