A day for the races

Festival on Greenway aims to bring different ethnicities together

William H. “Smitty’’ Smith of the National Center for Race Amity on the Greenway. William H. “Smitty’’ Smith of the National Center for Race Amity on the Greenway. (Pat Greenhouse/Globe Staff)
By Jack Curtis
Globe Correspondent / June 12, 2011

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Today, thousands of residents are expected to embrace their differences during the first Boston Race Amity Celebration.

The event is sponsored by Wheelock College’s National Center of Race Amity, founded last year to promote understanding among students of different races.

The celebration along the Rose Fitzgerald Kennedy Greenway wraps up the college’s four-day National Race Amity Conference to encourage multicultural engagement.

It was inspired by the United States’ first race amity conference held in Washington, D.C., in 1921.

The conference is part of Race Amity 2011: Towards E Pluribus Unum — Latin for “out of many, one’’ — a threefold initiative that also seeks to establish the second Sunday in June as National Race Amity Day and hold other race amity celebrations across the country.

“History teaches us that from cross-racial/cross-cultural interaction comes much good,’’ said William H. “Smitty’’ Smith, the center’s executive director.

Governor Deval Patrick and Boston Mayor Thomas M. Menino are honorary chairmen for Boston’s Race Amity Day celebration.

“This is a wonderful way to celebrate and recognize the cultural diversity of Boston’s residents and neighborhoods,’’ Menino said.

Attendees are encouraged to find a person of a different racial or ethnic background to reconnect with within two weeks. Participants can share their experiences at

Paul Toner, president of the Massachusetts Teachers Association, a sponsor, said the event “emphasizes breaking down barriers and making connections between people of varied backgrounds.’’