Breakthroughs Online
June 2010Issue No. 4

In recent months Rajmohan Gandhi, the president of Initiatives of Change International, has traveled to Indonesia, South Africa, Kenya, Egypt, the Middle East, Norway, Ukraine, and Japan. The goal of the mission is to raise a "coalition of conscience" and to build ethical leadership in public and private life. For most of this Voyage of Discovery he has been accompanied by a diverse international team of young leaders. This issue of Breakthroughs features a recent visit by the Gandhis to Washington, DC. 


We also bring further news of the North American outreach of Hope in the Cities and Rob Corcoran's book Trustbuilding in Washington, Tulsa, Oklahoma, and Toronto, Canada. Hannibal Johnson, a Tulsa Attorney, author and graduate of a Hope in the Cities training program, writes a commentary on Tulsa's effort to uncover and heal its racial history.


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Gandhi Voyage of Dialogue and Discovery in Washington, DC
By Chris Breitenberg 

Prof. Gandhi greet with Rev. Moss
Gandhi Moss
The Voyage of Dialogue and Discovery rolled into Washington, DC, on the heels of a number of recent public events in support of

Trustbuilding, a recent book release from IofC National Director Rob Corcoran. Rajmohan and Usha Gandhi spoke at a number of events throughout the week about building trust through honest conversation, personal conviction and trustworthiness.


Urs Ziswiler, Switzerland's Ambassador to the United States, opened the week's events by hosting a June 8 benefit at the Swiss Embassy on behalf of the Caux Scholars Program and the Caux Forum for Human Security. In his remarks, Ziswiler, a two-time visitor to Mountain House, shared his experiences: "I believe that the conversations and work that take place in Caux are of great importance in helping to change the world a little bit in these very complex times."


Professor Gandhi provided key remarks about Caux's role in the world. "Caux is a place for honest conversation, for deep dialogue, a place where we seek inspiration, and sometimes reconciliation takes place. I often say to myself when I am in Caux that this is exactly what my grandfather would have wanted."


The next night, a near-overflow crowd packed the National Press Club's First Amendment lounge to hear Gandhi speak about his experience with freedom of speech and the public debate. The audience listened intently as Gandhi shared stories of how he tried to "defy, outwit, and fight" censorship as editor of the weekly "Himmat" magazine during the period of Emergency in India. Read More


Later in the week, the Voyage stopped by historic Rankin Chapel on the campus of Howard University. Professor Gandhi spoke on the theme, "Building Trust across the World's Divides - Lessons Learned from the Work and Teachings of Mahatma Gandhi, Dr. Howard Thurman and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr." Read more


Shortly thereafter, Gandhi met with Young Professionals in Foreign Policy at the Aspen Institute in DuPont Circle. The interview style format allowed the professor to speak widely about a number of issues while focusing in on key methods of IofC's work around the world. Gandhi mentioned the central component of listening: "Listen to the other. Listen to the conscience. Listen to the planet."


Read the complete story here
From Tragedy to Triumph:
Tulsa's Road to Reconciliation

Tee Turner leads workshop in Tulsa.
Tee Tulsa workshop
Nearly ninety years after what has been described as the worst act of domestic terrorism in US history, Tulsa, OK, is starting to come to terms with its painful racial past and to "turn tragedy into a triumph of reconciliation."

Leading this effort is the John Hope Franklin Center for Reconciliation, named after the acclaimed historian and Tulsa's most prominent son. On June 2-4, the center convened a national symposium of scholars and practitioners to consider "Reconciliation in America: Moving Beyond Racial Violence."

Rob Corcoran, IofC national director and author of Trustbuilding, and Tee Turner, Hope in the Cities director of reconciliation programs, led an interactive workshop on "walking through history." Corcoran was the final speaker of the symposium.The Tulsa World quoted him as saying that "tolerance is not a strong enough glue to hold our communities together . . . Honest conversation means asking serious questions . . . You have to be inclusive. You have to take the risk of approaching even the most difficult - maybe especially the most difficult - people as potential allies."

At the symposium, Scott Ellsworth, author of Death in the Promised Land: The Tulsa Race Riot of 1921 (LSU Press 1982), was interviewed by Hannibal Johnson, an attorney and author of Black Wall Street and one of the organizers. Johnson is a graduate of IofC's Connecting Communities Program. In the interview Ellsworth stressed the importance of being able to face the past together and to understand that "while it may have impacted us in different ways, there is only one American history."

Read the complete story here.

Trustbuilding in Toronto and . . .


Rob Corcoran with a group from Canada at the Toronto book launch.
Toronto Book Launch
"I believe in Canada's great role as a trustbuilder in a world that must deal with diversity as never before," said Rob Corcoran, national director of Initiatives of Change USA, in his keynote address to the Annual General Meeting of
Initiatives of Change Canada in Toronto.


One hundred and forty languages and dialects are spoken in Toronto, making it one of the most multicultural cities in the world. Thirty percent of all recent immigrants come to this city and half its population was born outside of Canada. This diversity was reflected at the May 22-23 event which drew people from across Canada and from many different racial, ethnic, and religious backgrounds. 



Washington DC


In Washington DC

Search for Common Ground hosted a Trustbuilding book signing event. The event drew representatives from non-profit organizations and universities as well as young professionals. Welcoming the audience, Jana Carter, project director of the One America Project, said Search for Common Ground appreciated the growing collaboration with Initiatives of Change and noted that several SFCG staff had visited Richmond where they walked the historic Slave Trail.
Read the complete story here.
Real Security Requires Trust 

Dr. Mishkat Al-Moumin
"Real security requires trust." That is the conviction of Dr. Mishkat Al-Moumin who was

Minister for the Environment in the Iraqi transitional government and is now an adjunct professor at George Mason University. At the Trust Factor Forum in Richmond, VA, in 2009 she described how in
November of 2004, the tribal leaders of the Iraqi Marshlands came to her office at the Ministry of Environment.


"They came without an appointment or even a warning of their visit, since the communications in Iraq are not reliable. When they arrived, I learned that the tribal leaders wanted to see me because they had heard about my campaigns of distributing safe drinking water, and they wanted me to lead such a campaign in the Marshlands. Even with a busy day ahead of me, I felt I could not let down people who had traveled more than 339 miles to see me.


So I interrupted my meetings and other scheduled appointments and greeted the tribal leaders. Though I already knew part of their story, I wanted to listen to them. The lifestyle of the Marsh goes back to 5000 BC. Inhabitants build their houses from reeds, and these houses float on the water. They make their livelihood from fishing and are famous for their warm hospitality, kindness and generosity. In 1993, Saddam Hussein's regime destroyed this area by building a large-scale hydro-engineering project there. The destruction created 500,000 refugees or eternally displaced people. And the beautiful Marshlands that once resembled Venice, Italy became like a dry desert! . . .

Read the complete story here.

Race and Reconciliation:
Tulsa, OK, Leads by Example 
By Hannibal Johnson

"One might argue the historian is the conscience of the nation, if honesty and consistency are factors that nurture the conscience." Dr. John Hope Franklin (Race and History, Selected Essays, 1938 - 1988)


Hannibal JohnsonIn life, Tulsa's hometown hero, Dr. John Hope Franklin, challenged us to identify that which is broken in the world, and then set about fixing it. That legacy has now passed to the Tulsa institution that bears his name, The John Hope Franklin Center for Reconciliation (the "Franklin Center"). The Franklin Center is focused on pushing forward racial reconciliation.


Tulsa is a fitting venue for racial reconciliation work of national scope. As is true of so many other American communities, our history still haunts us. Because we have been slow to acknowledge and, where appropriate, apologize and atone, we have allowed old wounds to fester and new ones to surface.

Tulsa is the site of the worst "race riot" in American history. The catastrophic 1921 Tulsa Race Riot obliterated the prosperous, nationally renowned Greenwood District, "Black Wall Street." In fewer than twenty-four hours, people, property, hopes, and dreams vanished. The Greenwood District burned to the ground. Property damage ran into the millions. Scores, likely hundreds, of people died. Many others lay injured. Many African-Americans fled Tulsa, never to return. In an instant, Tulsa stood defiled and defined. We are, in some respects, still recovering.


The decades-long silence surrounding this tragic past left an air of suspicion and mistrust among some sectors of the community. The absence of dialogue, let alone truth, about the city's darkest hours tarnished black/white relations for generations. Only by owning our history do we stand a chance of real racial reconciliation. Coming to grips with our racialized past requires intentional, constructive engagement.


John Hope Franklin helped illuminate, and then span, our generations-old racial chasm. We honor his memory when we do the hard work necessary to sustain the momentum he and others generated toward racial reconciliation. That is what the Franklin Center is all about...


Read the complete commentary here.


a Harvard Law School graduate, is an author, attorney, and consultant specializing in diversity issues, human relations, and non-profit management & governance.
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In This Issue
Gandhi Voyage
From Tragedy to Triumph
Trustbuilding on the Road
Real Security Requires Trust
Race and Reconciliation in Tulsa
Upcoming Events
Global Update
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Noteworthy Press
The Richmond Times-Dispatch lead story on June 20 reported on a poll on racial attitudes in Richmond. Fifty-nine percent of whites and 56 percent of blacks rate race relations as good or excellent. Two-thirds of longtime residents, black and white, said race relations had improved over the past 20 years. But the biggest surprise was the number of black participants (a higher percentage than whites) who said Civil War history helps race relations "by educating people about the facts of the Civil War, the institution of slavery, and the impact the war had on the people living here - black and white." 

cover story of the June 21 Metro Business section featured a profile of Don Cowles, mentioning his role as former executive director of IofC and his activity with Hope in the Cities.
Upcoming Events
Metropolitan Richmond Day: November 9
 Mountain House

Click here for the full schedule of Caux summer conferences.
Global Update

Read about the Gandhi Voyage of Dialogue and Discovery in Indonesia, South Africa, Nairobi, Kenya and Palestine. Click here to read the latest Global Update!
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