Paris Texas hosts U.S. Department of Justice Community Relations Services

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On Thursday night, I traveled to Paris to attend a racial dialogue session hosted by the Diversity Task Force and the Paris Branch NAACP. I thought it was productive and will share my feelings and more pictures next week. I’d at least like to let everyone know what went on at the meeting. Here are reports from Mary Madewell of the Paris News and Richard Abshire (a native Parisian) from the Dallas Morning News.

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The Paris News: Getting a Grip on Racial Tension

  • Carmelita Pope Freeman, regional director of the Southwest Regional Office of the U.S. Department of Justice Community Relations Service, told a receptive audience of about 90 people gathered Thursday at Calvary United Methodist Church that the work ahead will not be easy, but the benefits from open discussions about race and other issues, along with resources from the federal government, should result in a stronger community that realizes diversity is its greatest strength.
  • Representatives from a plethora of organizations ranging from the New Black Panthers and Concerned Citizens for Racial Equality to newly organized Just Us as well as Regular Citizens of Lamar County attended the meeting hosted by the Paris Chapter NAACP, the Diversity Task Force of Paris and the Paris Ministerial Alliance. Top city, county and school officials also attended the almost three-hour meeting.
  • “This is a God send,” said Mary Clark, a steering committee member for the Diversity Task Force, following the meeting. “We have been searching for someone to facilitate racial dialogue forums and all of a sudden the Justice Department appeared. Clark said they came to Paris because of “some of the problems we are having.”
  • Rev. Kenneth Rogers, pastor at St. Paul Baptist Church who welcomed the audience, reiterated the on-going work of local organizations. “We have been working on this a long time,” Rogers said before introducing Freeman and Penland. “I am glad we are now at this point and I am glad we have the people here that are going to carry us through.”
  • “It may take several dialogue meetings in different places in the community so that everyone feels they have had an opportunity to participate,” Freeman said. After a thorough vetting of issues during perhaps several meetings and after community teams have worked through issues, a work plan and memorandum of understanding would be prepared to be sent to the U.S. Department of Justice as well as Congressional members.

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Dallas Morning News – Town rattled by slaying discusses race relations

  • Parisians who attended a meeting on race relations this week ssay they came away feeling optimistic, some of them cautiously so.
  • “It was nice and everybody was friedly and everything, bet we’ve been here before,” said Brenda Cherry, a founder of Concerned Citizens for Racial Equality. “I’m hoping something positive come out of it.”
  • “The plan is to come back and have a larger meeting next month,” Mr. Hedges (Pastor of Calvary Methodist?) said.
  • Shawn Williams, publisher of the blog Dallas South, said he was encouraged by what he saw Thursday evening.

Looks like Mr. Abshire was trying to do a lot with a little newspaper real estate in his article. I hope the Morning News follows the developments in Paris. I hate that Chicago seems to find more space in their paper for these important issues than our own daily rag.

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