CHRISTIANSBURG, Va. (WFXR) – For the past 8 years “The Community Group” an African American civil society organization in Montgomery County, has sponsored the “Dialogue on Race.” Saturday they held their annual winter summit at Christiansburg Middle School. This year the group addressed the wealth gap and discrimination in the workplace.
“Through generations it has caused great disadvantages for the African American community. What we need to do to is make sure that when we’re talking about race we’re talking about policies, and different things that will impact folks looking at through a lens of equity,” says The Community Group chair and Montgomery County Public School Board Member Penny Franklin.
This years summit wasn’t just about learning. It was about having difficult discussions, and sharing personal experiences.
“I was told that black women were only good for one thing, which was on their back. I was told this at a job. Being a black female you have to outwork any, and everyone. You have to work, be smarter, and you have to be able to guide your children,” says The Community Group volunteer Shirley Akers.
Local law enforcement has been partnering with the group since the beginning. For Blacksburg Chief of Police Anthony Wilson. The summit continues to have a lasting impact on his department and the community.
“As a citizen watching the country become more polarized to the left and to the right. It seems like there’s no middle ground. Redirecting a lot of attention back inwardly to your own community allows you the mechanism to bring comfort. It also lets you bring advancement programs that actually work and dialog across both lines,” states Wilson.
In the end these discussions are all abut education and informing the community about diverse issues.