One America Community Efforts
Little Bar

Program: Students Talk About Race, Los Angeles, CA
Contact(s): Joseph H. McKenna, Ph.D., Senior Program Manager: (310) 478-9547
Purpose: To encourage tolerance, understanding, acceptance and celebration of diversity through dialogue

Background Program Operations Outcomes


In 1990, the People For the American Way Foundation created the Students Talk About Race Program (STAR) in North Carolina as a 30-year commemoration of the Greensboro sit-ins where college students engaged in civil disobedience for the sake of racial equality. (The program in North Carolina (NCSTAR) has already been highlighted by the President's Initiative on Race as a Promising Practice.) Following the civil unrest of 1992, STAR was implemented in Los Angeles and now serves the greater Los Angeles County.

Program Operations

STAR teaches college students how to facilitate discussions on race with middle and high school students. College students receive free professional training on diversity, facilitation skills, and an introduction to the STAR discussion guide. Upon completing their training, college facilitators pair up to visit either middle or high schools that neighbor their own college campuses. They facilitate one classroom discussion per week for an eight-week long program held during both the fall and spring semesters. The program includes activities and discussions on topics such as racist acts in U.S. history, race as it affects an individual's choice of friends or dates and possible solutions to racial discrimination. Middle and high school students learn how to tolerate and accept diversity, and learn to take emotional risks in speaking their mind about sensitive issues.

Outcomes and Significant Accomplishments

Since 1992, over 1,200 area college students from 20 campuses have brought the STAR program to 15,000 middle and high school students in 70 schools. In 1997-1998, approximately 200 college students and 4,000 middle and high school students are participating in the program. Also, some area colleges and universities are taking steps to include STAR into some of their own on-campus programs. In 1996, STAR won the University of Southern California's Building Better Communities Award. In 1997, the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation funded an evaluation of the program, which is still being conducted.

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