A volunteer group of Baltimore residents recently wrapped up a six-month program that aimed to address the issue of race relations in the city.
The Baltimore Cross-Community Engagement Project, presented by Project Pneuma and the Global Peace Foundation at the University of Baltimore Learning Commons, consisted of 10 sessions that actively engaged in constructive dialogue and examined and tested the assumptions of race relations in Baltimore.
“I am so grateful for an environment that facilities the important conversations that we had,” said participant Kim Burton. “Healing is a journey and I look forward to continuing with each of you.”
The pilot program’s session topics included “Building the Foundation,” “The Art of Dialogue/Discourse,” “Drawing the Circle Wider,” “Our Shared Humanity/Identity,” “Our Neighborhoods,” “Ingredients for Resilience,” “What Does Race Mean to You” and the final session, “Call to Action.”
“I didn’t know [that] I would be touched by so many people,” said another participant, Kwanza Dixon. “I am also grateful for how we come together for the young men at the Family Healing Center.”
After the end of the sessions, the participants completed a service project at the Nexus-Woodbourne Family Healing Center in the city. The participants were able to share experiences and conversations with the young men and even brought small essential gifts which were appreciated by each of the residents.
Many of the participants have heard back from their mentees after their first interaction. At the program’s graduation ceremony, participants shared dinner with family members and heard remarks from keynote speaker Paul Murray, GPF vice president of religious freedom initiatives.
“You graduate, but this is really only the beginning of the work,” Murray said. “We must be willing to listen, to continue to learn, and challenge our own preconceptions. By doing so we can create a moral society that values justice, equality, and respect for all.”
During the project sessions, officials, faith-based leaders, and other members of the community-led topics of discussion before the attendees broke into groups with facilitators recommended by the University of Baltimore.
The Global Peace Foundation works with community and faith-based leaders, and local governments in conflict areas to establish dialogue, build trust and forge lasting relationships.