Community forums in Newton will address race and racism

Sonja M. Spears is the chairwoman of the 12-member Newton Police Reform Task Force.
Sonja M. Spears is the chairwoman of the 12-member Newton Police Reform Task Force.Pat Greenhouse/Globe Staff

A series of virtual panels in the city will be held in Newton on confronting race and racism in the community, according to a statement from Mayor Ruthanne Fuller.

The city’s Police Reform Task Force will host Mahzarin R. Banaji, coauthor of “Blindspot: Hidden Biases of Good People,” during a virtual session Tuesday, Oct. 20, from 5 to 7 p.m., the statement said.

Banaji will be accompanied by task force chairwoman Sonja M. Spears, a retired judge, and member Robert Lowe, deputy superintendent with the Cambridge police. Participants are asked to register for the event online.

Fuller formed the task force earlier this year, following the death of George Floyd while in custody of Minneapolis police on May 25. A few days earlier, a Newton police drew his gun during a stop of resident Tim Duncan. The incident touched off local debate over the role of policing in Newton.

On Oct. 27, the Newton Free Library, Families Organizing for Racial Justice, Harmony Foundation, and the Newton Human Rights Commission will cosponsor the panel “Raising Anti-racist Kids,” the statement said.


The panel will feature several Newton educators and will be moderated by schools Superintendent David Fleishman. Registration is available at the Newton Free Library website.

Morgan Harper, a library teacher at the Peirce and Williams elementary schools, will moderate an Oct. 28 panel with author/illustrator Jerry Craft at 7 p.m. Craft will discuss his work on the graphic novel “New Kid,” and his upcoming work “Class Act.” A sign-up page for the panel is also available on the library’s website.

Families Organizing for Racial Justice also will help sponsor a Nov. 17 panel at 6:30 p.m. with Richard Rothstein, author of “The Color of Law, A Forgotten History of How Our Government Segregated America.” Participants can register for the event online.


“This deeper understanding of the systemic issues that contribute to housing inequities may be particularly timely as Newton engages in a comprehensive update of its zoning codes,” the statement from Fuller said.

John Hilliard can be reached at john.hilliard@globe.com.