Spurred by a passionate commitment to improve race relations in Dallas, City Councilman Dwaine Caraway is spearheading a citywide initiative to discuss the topic. Titled "Conversations About Race," the initiative will consist of four panel discussions on race as it relates to media, youth, business and the city itself.
The series begins almost immediately, with the first panel — covering media and race — taking place on September 21 at the City Performance Hall. The panel will include media figures such as Robert Wilonsky of DallasNews.com and Bob Sanders of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. Skot Welch, co-host of radio show Radio in Black and White, will moderate.
Caraway announced the initiative at a conference on Wednesday at Dallas City Hall. He's co-chairing the initiative with Mayor Mike Rawlings and Dallas County Commissioner Elba Garcia.
"We have come a long way in this country," Caraway said. "And certainly, there’s no question that we have come a long, long way here in the city of Dallas. But if we’re going to continue to be divided on the issue of race, then it"s going to be very difficult."
The series is part of a ramp-up for 2014 when the Face Race national conference from the Applied Research Center comes to Dallas.
"This is going to have a lot of national attention," Mayor Rawlings said. "We felt we needed to prepare for it. You can’t just go into a national convention conference without some preparation."
Rawlings described race relations in Dallas as a "big, complex issue" that couldn't be solved in an hour and a half. "I hope the conversations will bring about understanding across multiple demographics," he said. "It's a time to hone our listening skills."
The first event is free and open to the public; tickets must be claimed online.