The June 5th Transform Westside Summit, streamed live from the At-Promise Youth Center in English Avenue, centered on an honest discussion of current events, racial equity, and building the Beloved Community.
From left: John Ahmann, Westside Future Fund President and CEO; Lakeisha Walker, Westside native and Director of the At-Promise Initiative; Zavier Warner, At-Promise Youth Center program participant; Derrick Jordan, Vine City Resident and Senior Project Leader at National Church Residences
For this Summit, Westside Future Fund assembled a panel of individuals representing a range of perspectives: John Ahmann, Westside Future Fund President and CEO; Derrick Jordan, Vine City Resident and Senior Project Leader at National Church Residences; Lakeisha Walker, Westside native and Director of the At-Promise Initiative; Zavier Warner, At-Promise Youth Center program participant. WFF board member and nationally recognized scholar, Dr. Beverly Tatum moderated the panel. Craig Lucie, Owner of Lucie Content and former news anchor at WSB-TV, fielded questions from online viewers during the Q&A segment following the panel discussion.
To begin, Dr. Tatum framed the discussion with a short passage from Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s 1967 book, Where Do We Go From Here: Chaos or Community? She then invited panelists to reflect on the chaos we see evidence of throughout the country as well as the work ahead of us to strengthen community. Some highlights from the panel:
- Lakeisha Walker characterized the inequity in our nation as a “humanity issue.” She called on “white allies” to “listen to us, hear us, see us, understand us, support us, and really be willing to get in the fight with us.”
- Derrick Jordan candidly asked us to look inward and make a personal change. He asserted that building community begins with individuals “holding themselves accountable…asking ‘Why is America this way?’, and then working for change every day.
- Zavier Warner expressed the simple, but powerful message that real change “comes from home and comes from the heart.”
- John Ahmann shared an important realization he has had during his time leading the Westside Future Fund that has shaped his thinking on how to build community. In Ahmann’s words, “There is no way around getting to know each other.” The community we want to see on the Westside can only be built through relationship.
- Towards the end of the panel discussion, Dr. Tatum, President Emerita at Spelman College and author of Why Are All the Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria?, encouraged those dedicated to creating positive change “to remain grounded in a sense of hope” as fuel for everyone dedicated to seeing positive change because “persistence is required to undo the evil of racism in our society.”
View this important panel discussion and interactive Q&A here.
Following the post-panel Q&A, the Summit concluded with a brief, pre-recorded conversation with Dr. Joe Beasley, recognized human rights activist, Board Member of Antioch Urban Ministries, and Founder of the Joe Beasley Foundation.
We will continue the dialogue on racial equity and building the Beloved Community at our next Transform Westside Summit on June 19th. You can view the Summit live via Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and YouTube. Register here.
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