Three dialogues on race to begin in August

An Evanston resident has inspired three city-wide dialogues on race titled “My Evanston, My Neighbors: Constructive Dialogues on Race, Understanding and our Hopes for Evanston,” beginning Aug. 9 at the Lorraine H. Morton Civic Center.

According to a press release from the City of Evanston website/ Mayor Elizabeth Tisdahl said the possibility of the event was brought to her attention by Evanston resident, Madelyn Ducre.

Ducre has been an active community member for several years, speaking for police safety in 2009, speaking against the elimination of the Township Evanston

in 2011 and supporting the ordinance that decriminalized possession of less than 10 grams of marijuana in 2011. Most of Ducre’s work has been with the Human Services Committee, where she said the promotion of dialogues on race has been brought up on occasion for the past few years.

Ducre said she has been talking to Tisdahl about race relations for about five months. In the press release, Tisdahl said she hopes the diversity of Evanston will enhance the dialogues.

“It is my hope that these dialogues will go even further to enhance our community and the understanding of the myriad of unique people who make it whole,” Tisdahl said in the release.

Tisdahl began planning the event and looking for people who deal with race relations, said Godwin Chen, an International City/County Management Association fellow in Evanston.

“Our dialogues are going to be a community-building process,” Chen said, “meaning that in our first meeting there is going to be one where first residents get to know each other, get to understand other Evanstonians and the second part of the process is all the people that are attending are going to help set the agenda for future meetings.”

Ducre said she hopes the dialogues will lead to a better environment for her grandchildren, whom she was watching during the afternoon of July 18.

“We’re not going to stop hate overnight, but it’s a start,” she said.

Both Chen and Tisdahl said the planned discussions are not a reaction to the ski team incident and the ensuing discussions on race that occurred at Northwestern in the spring.

Ducre said she had read about the dialogues on race at the NU campus and admired the school’s participation in the incidents.

“I really tip my hat off to the people at Northwestern,” she said. “I think when Northwestern puts forth an effort it brings attention (to an issue).”

Although there is no direct correlation to NU’s diversity discussions during the school year, Chen said both he and Tisdahl both encourage NU students to participate in the dialogues.

“The mayor has extended her invitation to Northwestern students as well and we’re hoping that some Northwestern students will be interested in attending this event,” Chen said.

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