"As a nation, we need a healing." These words, spoken by former Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick at a gathering in Southern California last week, reflected the dual concerns at the conference about racial divisions in our country and the political divisions caused by the recent presidential election. At a time when we are wishing for "peace on earth," many people are feeling a lack of peace in our country and in their community.

More than 550 people gathered last week at the Truth, Racial Healing and Transformation Summit sponsored by the W.K. Kellogg Foundation. One of the results of the summit was a call for a National Day of Healing, to be held on January 17, 2017, and in which communities across the country will be encouraged to take steps in their cities to heal divisions created by racial tensions. Such steps might include Mayoral proclamations or gatherings to have conversations about racial bias and equity.

Another speaker at the summit spoke about the need for communities to take steps to ensure respect for human rights and racial equity in the face of potential changes from the newly elected President. "If we find that this Administration does not fulfill the roles that are expected of the federal government, we may have to step in. We should not wait for this to happen, but rather begin to step up," said Salin Geevarghese, Deputy Assistant Secretary at HUD.

The National Civic League is one of many partner organizations that will be working in the next several years to help communities improve racial equity by having inclusive conversations to heal existing divisions and create plans to address racial disparities in policing, education and other government services.

As Kellogg's Vice President, Gail Christopher, says, "we are in the business of changing hearts and minds so that the policy structure can make a change."  The National Civic League is committed to bring out the best in America's cities by helping communities create equity, unity and civic pride.

Happy Holidays and Best Wishes for 2017 from all of us at the National Civic League