Denver Talks: Conversations on Race and Justice

Screen Shot 2017-07-15 at 10.02.14 AMNational Civic League’s All-America Conversations program stems from our country’s need for critical discussions around community issues. National Civic League is currently providing free consultations and facilitation services to communities across the country as part of its All-America Conversations program – an initiative demonstrating that locally, we are still able to work together across dividing lines to create stronger, more equitable communities.

In addition to providing All-America Conversations consultation and facilitation services, National Civic League is tracking existing conversations and best practices across the country. This month, we are highlighting the City of Denver’s thoughtful approach to discussions on race and justice.

Derek Okubo, Denver’s Director of Human Rights and Community Relations, and National Civic League Chair, recently talked with us about what Denver has been doing around conversations and where the city wants to go. Denver’s conversation, Denver Talks, is two years in the making, stemming from the high school walkouts in support of the protests going on in Ferguson, Missouri. Denver’s Mayor Hancock and several city agencies then started conversations around the city on race and justice, and there continues to be ongoing discussion. It’s a very important topic with Mayor Hancock.

In November of 2017, Okubo will be working with the other agencies within the City of Denver, Lighthouse Writers Workshop, Metropolitan State University of Denver, Denver Public Library, Denver Public Schools, and many other local organizations to host a meeting that goes deeper in the community. The book, Citizen, will be used as a tool for a discussion at two major events. The book’s best-selling and MacArthur Fellow, Claudia Rankine, will fly in to lead a discussion with Mayor Hancock at Boettcher Concert Hall on Nov. 15, and at Auraria Campus on Nov. 16.

In light of the country’s current environment, the city hopes to continue to build bridges across lines and develop a set of values in Denver, reflecting that they are inclusive and “all in this together”. This is an ongoing and never-ending effort. The outcome will be continuously creating a more understanding environment of inclusivity.

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