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Race exhibit closes, will impact last?

For months posters have hung around downtown Rochester heralding the presence of the nationally renowned display "Race: Are We so Different?" But what will happen after the exhibit at the Rochester Public Library closes today and the banners come down?

Some people, including Anne Winfrey, of Rochester, worry that the attention to racial issues could disappear.

"I fear that it will be 'that was nice or cool, now next topic,'" said Winfrey who was among the more than 35,000 people who visited the exhibit during its run as of Wednesday.

One display that had a deep impact on her was a video of people telling their stories about race.

"It just grabbed me and shook me," she said.


Especially, she said, one woman's story about transracial adoption.

"My husband (Grant) and I are Caucasian parents of an African-American adopted child," she said.

As a parent, Winfrey said she it's her responsibility to talk to her son about race.

"If I had a white child, I think I would feel the same," she said. "People need to open up the conversation in their homes."

Organizers expect conversations about race will be more thoughtful and will continue on many levels.

"The real power around this exhibit is the dialogues that are happening in families, board rooms, businesses, service organizations, the community, Mayo Clinic and other places about race and racism, and who we are and who we want to be as organizations and community members," said Karen Herman, director of the Mayo Clinic Alumni Center and chairwoman of the Race planning committee.

Along with that, the people who helped coordinate the viewing of the exhibit and supporting events also came away from the experience with knowledge that will have an impact on the community long after the Race banners come down.

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