About

“We wear the mask that grins and lies…” – Paul Laurence Dunbar


Unmasking Hampton Roads (#UnmaskingHR) is a three-part learning series designed to help residents of the region take off their masks, be candid with each other about race and racism, and work together to make our communities more equitable and inclusive spaces for everyone. The series is inspired by the poem “We Wear the Mask” by African American writer and poet Paul Laurence Dunbar.

#UnmaskingHR will take place in Hampton Roads twice this fall: 


Oct. 10, Oct. 17 and Oct. 19 – Norfolk and Virginia Beach

Location: Old Donation School (4633 Honeygrove Rd, Virginia Beach, VA 23455)

Oct. 10, 7 to 9 p.m. Includes a buffet-style dinner, “Abolitionist Museum” stage play by Sheri Bailey and Company, and facilitated small group discussions; doors open at 6:30 p.m.

Oct. 17, 7 to 9 p.m. Includes a panel session featuring community leaders and a public Q&A session; doors open at 6:30 p.m. Panel moderated by WAVY News10 Anchor Anita Blanton. Panelists:

Julian Baena, president, Hispanic Chamber of Commerce of Coastal Virginia

Khayla Walker (also know as Cuyjet), peer facilitator and alumnus, Teens with a Purpose and spoken word artist

Dr. Amelia Ross-Hammond, founder and chairman, the African American Cultural Center of Virginia Beach

Dr. Patricia Turner, member of the Norfolk 17 and retired veteran educator

Forrest “Hap” White, author, “Black, White and Brown: The Battle for Progress in 1950s Norfolk

Lavell White, educator and motivational speaker

Oct. 19, 10 a.m. to 12 noon Includes an intensive diversity and inclusion training and bias workshop facilitated by Virginia Center for Inclusive Communities; doors open at 9:30 a.m.

Unmasking Hampton Roads, Oct. 17, 2019: Watch this panel of community leaders address critical race issues in the region; moderated by Anita Blanton, anchor, WAVY TV10 (video by the AV Company).

Nov. 14, Nov. 21 and Nov. 23 – Portsmouth, Chesapeake and Suffolk

Location: Tidewater Community College (Portsmouth campus, 120 Campus Dr, Portsmouth, VA 23701)

Nov. 14, 7 to 9 p.m. Includes a buffet-style dinner, “Abolitionist Museum” stage play by Sheri Bailey and Company, and facilitated small group discussions; doors open at 6:30 p.m.

Nov. 21, 7 to 9 p.m. Includes a panel session featuring community leaders and a public Q&A session; doors open at 6:30 p.m. Panel moderated by WAVY News10 Anchor Anita Blanton. Panelists:

James Boyd, president, Portsmouth NAACP

Mary Hill, Executive director, Suffolk African American Cultural Society

Christina Kimbrough, co-host, Your Neighbor’s Hood podcast

Randy Williams, owner, Talley & Twine

Chief Kelvin Wright, Chesapeake Chief of Police

Nov. 23, 10 a.m. to 12 noon Includes an intensive diversity and inclusion training and bias workshop facilitated by Virginia Center for Inclusive Communities; doors open at 9:30 a.m.


Both Unmasking Hampton Roads series consist of three parts, featuring shared meals, film screenings, performance art, discussions and exercises to help participants understand the historic and contemporary role racism plays in structuring their communities, talk honestly about the effects of racism in their lives, and learn tools to recognize and address racial biases and disparities through professionally-facilitated workshops.

The Unmasking: Race & Reality in Richmond (#UnmaskingRVA) was held in Richmond, VA in 2016. A diverse swath of the city’s residents participated in the program. (Photo by Jay Paul)

Beneath the Surface

Unmasking Hampton Roads is the second event in a new partnership between the Hampton Roads Community Foundation and Virginia Humanities called “Beneath the Surface: Race and the History of Race in South Hampton Roads.” The goal of this initiative: to deepen awareness of the role race and racism play in issues confronting the region, and to lay groundwork for positive transformation. A public conversation with Dr. Beverly Tatum on May 30 was the first event in the initiative, attended by more than 800 residents of the region and viewed via livestream video by more than 1,500 people.

Dr. Beverly D. Tatum, educator and author of the book “Why Are All the Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria? And Other Conversations About Race” spoke to the public in a conversation moderated by April Woodard at the Chesapeake Conference Center in Chesapeake, Virginia on Thursday, 5/30/19. The public forum was organized by the Hampton Roads Community Foundation and Virginia Humanities. (Photo by Pat Jarrett/Virginia Humanities)

Why Hampton Roads?

In 2018, the Hampton Roads Community Foundation launched its Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Initiative as a critical strategy to accomplish its mission of making life better in Hampton Roads through leadership, philanthropy and civic engagement. Bringing this series to Hampton Roads helps the Community Foundation advance racial equity and ensure the success and wellbeing of our region’s diverse residents.


Unmasking Series Background

Unmasking Hampton Roads is the third Unmasking Series in the state of Virginia. In 2016, journalist/writer Samantha Willis co-created the series with Richmond Magazine after a blackface scandal rocked the city (#UnmaskingRVA), and with Virginia Humanities, continued the series in Charlottesville in June 2018 (#UnmaskingCville), nearly a year after white nationalist groups brought deadly violence to the city. Samantha is currently leading the development of Unmasking Hampton Roads (#UnmaskingHR) in collaboration with the Hampton Roads Community Foundation and Virginia Humanities.

#UnmaskingRVA was held in Richmond, VA in 2016. The series was co-created by journalist/writer Samantha Willis (on left, in yellow dress) and Richmond Magazine. (Photo by Jay Paul)

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