Race Relations: An Oak Ridge Experiment in Social Concern

The five week period from November 10th through December 8th marks the fiftieth anniversary of the Oak Ridge public forums on race relations, hosted by Saint Mary’s. The series of forums, called “An Experiment in Social Concern”, followed the Holy Week Uprising against the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. earlier that year in the western end of our state, and came ten years after the bombing of the Clinton High School in our county seat. The purpose of the forums was to “confront the community with able and articulate minority group members”, and to challenge Oak Ridgers to “awaken to change”.

Fifty years have passed, and still our race relations are in need of repentance, reparation and reconciliation. Where do we Oak Ridgers stand on race relations today? What do we Oak Ridgers need to do for race relations today? In what ways can Oak Ridgers lead our state and our nation in the process of building and sustaining virtuous race relations?

o There are 3 million African American Catholics in the United States.
o 798 Catholic parishes are considered to be predominantly African American.
o There are 15 African American bishops.
o Currently, five U.S. dioceses are headed by African American bishops.
o There are 250 African American priests, 437 deacons, and 75 men of African descent in seminary formation for the priesthood in the United States.
o There are 400 African American religious sisters and 50 religious brothers.
o The Black population in the United States is estimated to be just over 36 million people (13% of the total U.S. population).