Many of us are aware of the impact of traumatic events on individuals. Post-traumatic syndrome became a familiar term in response to the Vietnam War and what men and women experienced in that war. There is also growing research on how an individual’s brain reacts to trauma with encouraging news about how to help individuals recover. However, we do not know as much about how trauma impacts a community. The Charlottesville community has had several traumatic events in the past few years that have affected many people. In addition, when there are parts of a community where people feel marginalized, the impact of trauma is different. There are barriers for people in the marginalized community that can prevent recovery as well as natural healing relationships that can be used as resources.

The Maxine Platzer Women’s Center at UVA is sponsoring a talk as part of the 2017 Community Martin Luther King Celebration entitled How We Begin To Heal: Addressing Lifelong Impacts of Trauma in Communities of Color. We’d like to thank UVA’s Office for Equal Opportunity and Civil Rights for joining us to co-sponsor this event.

The theme of the MLK Celebration this year is “Silence as Betrayal.” In 1967, speaking out against the war in Vietnam, Dr. King stated, “A time comes when silence is betrayal.” This theme is very relevant to trauma. The impact of trauma becomes more severe when everyone remains silent about it. By acknowledging trauma and giving voice to our reactions, the healing process can begin.

Please join us at this free event on Wednesday January 25th to hear psychologist Russell T. Jones, who is a professor from Virginia Tech. Drawing on his extensive work with traumatic events including Hurricane Katrina, and the Virginia Tech shootings, Dr. Jones will discuss the impact of generational and systemic trauma on people in communities of color. We will learn about the nature of developmental trauma, how it shapes individual and community coping behaviors, and what are some suggested interventions to foster healing and growth.

The talk will be from 3:00 – 4:00 followed by a group discussion and then a reception from 4:30- 5:30 at the Harrison/Small Library at UVA. We hope that this event will help participants better understand what our community has experienced as well as develop some ideas of how we can become a part of the healing process.

This will be a valuable event for mental health providers, educators, case managers, advocates and others working or volunteering especially with communities of color.

Dr. Jones has many accomplishments so I am just going to highlight a few of them here.

  • He presented on Helping Students Recover from Traumatic Events for Teachers and Administrators for the Department of Education.
  • Jones met with the Assistant Deputy Director of Special Projects at the White House to discuss the after effects of Hurricane Katrina. He is a member of the Hurricane Katrina Community Advisory Group administered by the Department of Health Care Policy at the Harvard Medical School.
  • Jones received his Ph.D. from Penn State and completed his clinical internship at Brown. He also held a secondary appointment at Yale at the Child Study Center.

For more information please go to womenscenter.virginia.edu. You will also find more information there about the location and free parking for this event.

In addition to Dr. Jones, there are many interesting events being offered locally by the Community MLK Celebration these next two weeks.

Anita Hill will be speaking at the Paramount Theater next Thursday evening. In 1993, Hill made sexual harassment in the workplace a national issue when she testified that Supreme Court Justice nominee Clarence Thomas had committed sexual harassment against her. She is now Professor of Social Policy, Law, and Women’s Studies at Brandeis University. Hill’s keynote is sold out, but you can attend the screening of the film Anita – Speaking Truth to Power on Sunday, January 22 at 1:00 p.m. in the Newcomb Hall Theater.

The annual community celebration from which this whole series has grown over many years will be held on January 22nd at 5:00 p.m. at Covenant Church. For more information and to learn about all of the events, go to mlk.virginia.edu.

We hope you will participate in these events as a way of showing we are a community that is not silent.


Transcript from Charlotte Chapman’s trip to WTJU as part of our regular spot on the “Eclectic Woman” segment.