On October 10, Evanston Township High School will host a student-led program designed to educate the public about hate speech and how to combat it. Sponsored by the Democratic Party of Evanston, the forum is designed to appeal to everyone who believes hate speech is wrong, regardless of party affiliation.

Hate speech has always existed, but social media and the internet ease the exponential rise in and spread of hate speech. The forum is a conduit to help teens, parents and other interested community members respond effectively and safely to offensive written and spoken words.

The forum has four interconnected sections, each one involving a presentation by a subject matter expert followed by a “cross examination” by two members from the ETHS Speech and Debate Team, two different students for each segment. Subject matter experts include Lecia J. Brooks, chief workplace transformation officer from the Southern Poverty Law Center, who will discuss the history of hate speech in the U.S., current trends and white nationalism; Kelley Szany, vice president of education and exhibitions at the Illinois Holocaust Museum and Education Center, who will present parallels between current trends in hate speech and those of the Nazis during the Holocaust, and show how hate speech is often a precursor to genocide; Dr. G. Kwesi Cornell Logan, an educational consultant based in Evanston and co-author of an educational curriculum recently adopted by District 65, who will discuss “Power, Profile and Place of the N Word;” and Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky (IL-D, 9th District), who will discuss what Congress is doing to combat hate speech. The program will conclude with questions from the audience answered by the speakers, suggestions about next steps and a call to action.

For security reasons, online pre-registration (evanstondems.com) is required by midnight, October 9, 2019. The only group not required to register are currently enrolled students in Districts 65 and 202. Tickets are $15 per person, but the program is free for Districts 65 and 202 students and families. (Note, Districts 65 and 202 families must pre-register to be admitted even though they will not pay a fee.)  Students and adults from outside Districts 65 and 202 must register and pay the $15 donation. All proceeds go toward funding ETHS student scholarships.