“You never change things by fighting the existing reality. To change something, build a new model that makes the existing model obsolete.”
— Buckminster Fuller: Architect, Inventor, Philosopher
The national Truth, Racial Healing & Transformation (TRHT) movement was launched by its visionary and architect Dr. Gail Christopher during her former tenure as Senior Advisor and Vice President at the W.K. Kellogg Foundation (WKKF). The vision and mission of the TRHT movement is to dismantle the false belief in a hierarchy of human value based on race. The national movement is informed by over 40 successful international truth and reconciliation commissions that have produced reports on human rights violations and civil wars, such as South Africa’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission. The TRHT movement prioritizes healing and transformation rather than reconciliation because the U.S. was founded on division. In 2016, Christopher convened a 176 member and multi-sector design team to develop the TRHT Framework (a comprehensive and holistic community-based process to bring about sustainable change and transformation regarding racism) and a TRHT Implementation Guidebook. In June 2017, WKKF provided funding for fourteen TRHT communities across the country with unique histories, geographies, and social contexts, to implement the TRHT Framework and advance transformation.
In Fall 2017, the TRHT movement expanded to include TRHT Campus Centers, hosted by the American Association of Colleges & Universities (AAC&U). The work of TRHT Campus Centers is part of the overall mission of higher education, which is to educate and prepare the next generation of thought leaders and social change agents to dismantle racism (individual, interpersonal, and institutional) and to build more just and equitable campuses, communities, and societies. Duke was designated one of the ten inaugural TRHT Campus Centers, and now there are more than 70 local TRHT Campus Centers situated in both public and private community colleges and four-year universities across the nation. AAC&U’s goal is to grow the TRHT Campus Center Network to 150 campus centers.
Today, the National Collaborative for Health Equity (NCHE) TRHT Map represents the current breadth and depth of the movement, which includes more than 14 TRHT Communities, more than 70 TRHT Campus Centers, as well as the NCHE Culture of Health Institute Leaders, the American Library Association Great Stories, among other national TRHT sponsors and supporters.
TRHT Guiding Principles
The following principles, updated in the 2023 TRHT Implementation Guidebook, inform a Framework that all TRHT communities, organizations, campus centers, and individuals utilize to examine and dismantle belief systems that maintain divisive and inequitable race-based practices.
- Design and implementation are local-and community-led.
- TRHT is an expansive and inclusive process in all respects, with a deep and unyielding commitment to understanding the different cultures, experiences and perspectives that coexist in community.
- Development and implementation are based on the TRHT Framework and guided by the TRHT Implementation Guidebook.
- Design and implementation are developed through cooperative planning, intelligent study, and group action.
- A clear and compelling vision, accompanied by a set of ambitious but achievable goals, both long-term and short-term, is developed, and progress is regularly assessed.
- TRHT always includes an accurate recounting of history, both local and national.
- The process of healing requires the building (and sometimes repairing) of trustworthiness and trust and is intentionally designed to be a positive process for all.
- A commitment to policies that can effectively foster systemic change and to some form of reparative or restorative justice.
- A thoughtful and comprehensive communications strategy is essential to inform the entire community, even those who are neither involved in, nor supportive of, the process.
- There is a broadly understood way of dealing with the tensions that inevitably arise.
The TRHT Framework is a national and comprehensive process to plan for and bring about transformational and sustainable change. It seeks to uncover and eliminate the deeply held and often unconscious belief in a hierarchy of human value, thereby addressing the causes and consequences of racism.