Guest speaker Johnson talks unity, race
October 17, 2019
Dr. Theodore R. Johnson will return to speak at William Peace University on Oct. 21 at 3:30 p.m. in Kenan Auditorium.
His topic will be “This is America: Patriotism, Race, and How We can Unite.” So what can students and guests expect to learn? Here are answers to some questions the media writing class asked Dr. Johnson in a Skype interview a few weeks before the speech.
Why did you choose this topic to speak on?
When I was there a couple of years ago, shortly after the 2016 election, I was talking mostly about voting behavior, the role of race, and how it led to the outcome of the 2016 election. There has been a sense in the country over the last decade, that racial tensions are getting worse. I’m a retired military officer, and one of the things I’m thinking about is how we can bring the nation back together. I reflected on my time in the service, and the thing that unites us all as Americans isn’t our religion, our race, our ethnicity, or anything; it’s that we are united by our citizenship.
What’s the main thing that brought you back to Peace?
I’m from Raleigh originally so I grew up in North Raleigh. Anytime I get a chance to come back to the hometown is always great. I didn’t know a whole lot about Peace growing up in Raleigh. We heard about the big three, Duke, Carolina, and State. Peace is a school that meets people where they are.
What takeaways should the audience get after the speech?
There’s a few things and a lot of my talk is going to be pulled from a book that I’m writing, called “When the Stars Begin to Fall: Race, Solidarity, and the Future of America.” One of the main arguments I make in the book, is that the way to build most racial solidarity in the United States is to turn to the American Civil Religion. This concept is the base of most of my talk.
What more can we do as students with different races being against one another?
In America right now, I think we’re getting a masterclass in the importance of journalism. We tend to think of the three branches of government providing checks and balances against each other. Your ability to report on what’s happening at your school, in Raleigh, North Carolina, and the world, is really important an important part in keeping our society on track. Another thing that students have is energy.