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Mercer University receives grant to produce short video series about Macon's racial history

The Griffith Family Foundation gave $20,000 to Mercer University's Building Beloved Community Symposium.

MACON, Ga. — A Mercer University symposium recently received a grant to produce a series of short videos focusing on Macon's rich racial history.

The Griffith Family Foundation gave $20,000 to Mercer University's Building Beloved Community Symposium.

Matthew Harper, an associate professor of history and Africana studies and co-convener of the Beloved Community Symposium, will lead the project.

"If we ask the right questions, if we show some of that history to people, it has the capacity for us to understand our own present in different ways," said Harper.

There will be four 10-minute videos shared with the community through town halls, churches, civic clubs, schools and other venues.

Jason McClendon, Pastor of the Community Church of God, sees the importance of understanding our history.

"It gives a guide post of how Macon played not only a pivotal role in the state of Georgia, but nationally, and how some precedents had been set that can help us move forward in a way that unifies us," said McClendon.

Each video will share a historic moment from Macon's past.

"Really important and striking things happened here in Macon. The first elected Black congressman to speak on Capitol Hill was from Macon," said Harper.

The symposium formed as a way to help the church demonstrate unity through collaboration across denominational and racial boundaries based on Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s concept of the "beloved community."

"We believe we are stronger together because these are the people in our community. We can't go forward unless we walk in some type of agreement," said McClendon.

The project's goal is to spark conversation about what Macon could be.

"I think Macon also has a lot of civic energy. Macon has a lot of problems, but Macon has a lot of people that want to tackle those problems and are sincere about that," said Harper.

The video project should be completed sometime in 2022 and organizers hope to incorporate the video project into the city of Macon's bicentennial celebration in 2023.

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