Psychology professor determines city's racial attitudes

Cathy McDaniels Wilson oversees dialogue programs at National Underground Railroad Freedom Center | August 9, 2004

Cathy McDaniels Wilson is gauging racial attitudes in Cincinnati. Over the next few weeks, Wilson will oversee a survey of 500-600 Hamilton county residents to determine the city’s outlook on racial issues. The survey is part of Wilson’s duties as the director of dialogue for the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center, which opens this month.

“The survey will help identify attitudes and opinions on racial issues,” said Wilson, a psychology professor at Xavier. “Once the survey is done, [the Freedom Center and the community] can begin the process of re-building.”

Wilson’s position is a new and unique joint appointment between Xavier and the Freedom Center. The Columbus resident splits her time between teaching psychology classes at Xavier and overseeing the Dialogue Zone and Healing through History programs at the Freedom Center.

“The goal of the Dialogue Zone, which is located at the end of the exhibits, is to create a space where people can safely process their feelings, thoughts and reactions after touring the exhibits,” said Wilson. “Our hope is that we can create a safe space so people can be honest and open and able to share and hopefully improve interracial dialogue.”

Healing through History is a joint program between the National Conference for Community Justice and the Freedom Center. In this program, small groups will take part in a series of facilitated interracial dialogues that will center on different episodes of history.