Dialogue on Race Achievements

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What started as a series of study circles over three years ago, has transformed into a coalition of people across the Charlottesville area with activities that have involved over 13,000 volunteer hours and close to $300,000 worth of service. Guided by a Steering Committee of committed and concerned citizens, the Dialogue on Race has worked hard to make its mission of engaging every segment of our community and proactively finding concrete solutions and paths to action that promote racial justice and equity. Let’s take a look at the accomplishments of the Dialogue Initiative that began in 2009.


· Called the Charlottesville area community together to talk about the need for a large scale effort to discuss race relations in December 2009.

· Organized community-wide study circles on race with close to 700 participants during January 2010.

· Created a network of volunteers as a result of the study circles who focused on creating action from the priorities established by the group discussions. Those volunteers were organized into Work Groups with different Action Teams.

· The Economic Work Group created and disseminated a survey that assessed the needs and concerns of minority-owned and co-owned businesses.

· The Economic Work Group organized the 2011 Minority Business Summit, the first of its kind sponsored by Charlottesville.

· Created a Minority Business Report that was presented to City Council.

· Collaborated with the Charlottesville Regional Chamber of Commerce to create a Minority Business Council (CMBC) associated with the Chamber, the first such group the Chamber has ever hosted. The CMBC is a permanent part of the Chamber and is hosting the 2nd Annual Minority Business Conference in September, 2013.

· Supported the creation of a non-profit micro-lending and small business training entity, the Community Investment Collaborative, headed by local businessman Toan Nguyen.

· Supported the 2013 campaign by Forward/Adelante, owned and founded by noted businesswoman Olga Morse, to recognize and honor the diversity in businesses in the Charlottesville area.

· The Promise Neighborhood project won a coveted one-year federal planning grant for the City of Promise for over $450,000; the Promise Neighborhood Action Team continues to collaborate with the City of Promise Executive Director on community activities.

· The Achievement Action Team participated in the West Haven Community Day event through a literacy activity that involved reading to the children of West Haven, engaged them with questions, and gave away several copies of the book that was read.

· The Achievement Action Team hosted two forums that addressed the achievement gap

1. The first forum brought to the community’s attention to the current issues regarding achievement for some of Charlottesville's youth and possible solutions;

2. The second forum focused on what strategies were used prior to school integration that kept youth in need from failing;

· The Youth Dialogue Action Team collaborated with businessman Ty Cooper on two events at the Paramount theater designed to attract more youth of diverse backgrounds to the Downtown Mall and encourage city youth to discuss issues of race.

· The Youth Dialogue Action Team arranged for trained Charlottesville High School students to successfully facilitate discussions about race among students in the teacher education program at the University of Virginia’s Curry School of Education.

· The Diversity Training Action Team collaborated with staff of the Charlottesville City Schools and assisted with the 2012-13 school year focus on race, achievement, class and equity through the professional development sequences for both teachers and staff.

· The Achievement Action Team worked with Charlottesville Twelve member Charles Alexander in the development of his book “The Skin is Just a Cover” that will be distributed to every 4th grader in the Charlottesville City Schools in October 2013.

· Co-sponsored a Re-Entry Summit in 2011 for ex-offenders with participation of local and state government officials as well as private agencies that had over 200 attendees.

· Re-entry for Ex-offenders Action Team assisted with the creation of “Believers and Achievers”, an on-going peer support group which emerged from the Summit.

· Assisted the Peer Support Network workshop that was a follow-up to the Re-entry Summit.

· The Re-entry Action Team developed and distributed over 3,000 copies of a comprehensive Homecoming Pocket Resource Guide for easy use by people re-entering society after incarceration.

· The Homecoming Guide was updated in July 2013. The State Department of Corrections used the guide in their staff training.

· Hosted a panel discussion at City Hall on Michelle Alexander’s book, “The New Jim Crow” that examined the disproportionate sentencing and incarceration of people of color.

· The Policy Action Team presented a proposal to City Council for the creation of a Human Rights Commission to document, investigate, and adjudicate instances of discrimination.

· The Dialogue on Race played an integral role in assisting the City Manager’s Office with the research and community input during the “study” focus of the Human Rights Task Force.

· Authored the City Council resolution declaring Charlottesville to be a “City of Second Chances” for ex-offenders.

· Partnered with the League of Women Voters to present the sole community-wide forum for candidates vying for the 2012 School Board.

· Helped Council enhance the focus on diversity in the City’s Vision statement.

· Collaborated with UCARE (University and Community Action for Racial Equity on different events promoting community-wide discussions on race.

· African American History Action Team researched background information and identified 15 local African-American historical sites to be used for a walking tour of Charlottesville by the Jefferson School African American Cultural Heritage Center.

· Public Art Action Team partnered with the Jefferson School Foundation to prepare and issue a national call to artists for the creation of a Vinegar Hill Monument sculpture; arranged for three artists to do presentations before a jury and the Charlottesville community for the creation of a Vinegar Hill Monument; and organized three different community gatherings with artist Melvin Edwards who was chosen to create a monument to Vinegar Hill.

· Partnered with local African American history group, Our Legacy, Inc. and produced programs honoring the “Charlottesville Twelve” with historic markers, a multi-day educational event, and a booklet with extensive background information.

· Participated with the University of Virginia and other community groups on programming for the MLK/Community celebrations since 2011.

· Partnered with the Parks and Recreation Department for Black History Month programming.

· Co-sponsored “Entangled Lives” with the Burke Brown Steppe Chapter of the Afro American Historical and Genealogy Society of Charlottesville/Albemarle; the presenters were enslaved and slave owner descendants with ties to Albemarle County.

· Co-sponsored a Kwanzaa presentation by the organizers of ‘Juneteenth’ December 2011;

· Hosted a panel discussion with R. Dwayne Betts, author of “Behind Bars, Beyond Vengeance” as part of the 2011 Festival of the Book.

· Hosted a discussion with Donna Britt, author of “Brothers (and Me)” as part of the 2012 Festival of the Book.

· Participated in the African American Cultural Arts Festival and Juneteenth Celebration, 2010—2013.

· Assisted with the Jefferson School Cultural Heritage Center Second Line event to bring awareness to the impending opening of the Heritage Center.

· Hosted a panel discussion with local and UVA historians on “Free and Freed Blacks in Charlottesville and Albemarle.”

· Hosted a panel discussion on Queen Charlotte regarding her history and genealogical heritage with local experts from UVA, PVCC , the community and an international expert on Queen Charlotte.

· In celebration of “Race Unity Week”, the Dialogue on Race organized a week of discussions on the 2013 theme of “Rethinking Race and Identity.” Events included multiple sessions on racial identity, poster, literary and poetry contests for k-12 youth, and guest speaker Yvette Modestin who has authored a book on racial identity.

· Hosted community discussions on racial stereotyping and profiling at West Haven and South First St. during 2011 and at City Space during 2012.

· Organized the summer series “Movie in the City” in 2012 as a different way to engage community members with different videos and dialogue.

· Worked with the Charlottesville Housing Authority to create opportunities for youth residents to better get along with other housing residents of different backgrounds.

· Attended meetings upon request for issues and concerns relevant to the Dialogue on Race.

· Made presentations to groups such as the:

§ Mary Williams Senior Community Center for Jefferson Area Board for Aging

§ Seventh Grade Career Expo sponsored by Piedmont Futures and the Central Virginia Career Pathways Consortium

§ All Together, a group promoting racial equity in Williamsburg, VA

§ Many Voices, One Community; a group promoting racial equity in Lynchburg, VA

§ Guest lecturer at University of Virginia and Piedmont Virginia Community College

§ John Hope Franklin Reconciliation Conference in Tulsa, OK

· Represented the Dialogue on Race at various community events such as:

· African American Cultural Arts Festival

· Juneteenth Celebration

· Belmont Bash

· Charlottesville Pride Festival

· Back to School events by African American Pastors group and the Providence Group

Many of the Dialogue on Race events have been videotaped and are broadcast on Channel 10 on a regular basis for repeated viewing.