Texarkana, TX 69° Wed H 85° L 62° Thu H 86° L 62° Fri H 87° L 65° Weather Sponsored By:

Groups unite in Dallas to discuss 2016 police deaths

Groups unite in Dallas to discuss 2016 police deaths

July 5th, 2017 by Dallas Morning News in Texas News

In this June 20, 2017 photo, Roy Vandiver, left, talks with Juanita Pounds at the dining table during the Together We Dine event at Highland Park United Methodist Church in Dallas. The Dallas Morning News reported that more than 150 people of various ethnicities came together as part of the Year of Unity efforts, created in response to the July 7, 2016, ambush in Dallas that left five police officers dead.

Photo by Associated Press

DALLAS—We're often told to avoid talking about politics, race or religion at the dinner table.

But one Dallas organization, Project Unity, is encouraging people to do just that.

The Dallas Morning News reports on a recent Tuesday night, more than 150 people of various ethnicities came together as part of the Year of Unity efforts, created in response to the July 7, 2016, ambush in Dallas that left five police officers dead.

Previous Together We Dine events included city officials and college students. This event opened up the conversations to business people, nonprofit organizations and clergy.

Dozens of tables at Highland Park United Methodist Church became the setting where people talked about their upbringing, not being exposed to minority communities until adulthood, feeling concerned about today's political rhetoric, and the impact that the killing of five police officers last July had on the city.

These weren't the surface-level talks typically held when meeting a stranger.

"We are challenging people to engage in dialogue and activities that improve race relations," said the Rev. Richie Butler of St. Paul United Methodist Church, in an interview before the meal. Butler started Project Unity after the Ferguson, Missouri, police shooting. "Listen to someone else's story, learn and engage."

Facilitators helped guide the talks. They asked questions about the state of race relations, encounters with racism and feelings on stereotypes.

Dianna Masters, a pastor serving southern Dallas in the United Methodist Church of North Texas, said she felt that a lot of people believed race relations would get better with Barack Obama as the first black president.

"Whatever stereotype they had of black men, people saw a great example in someone that was a great dad, husband, leader," Masters said. Over dinner, she shared her concerns about the rise of white supremacy speech.

Jae Ellis and Liza Ellis, who live in Highland Park, said that the area gets a reputation for "being in a bubble," but that there's a real desire to change that perception.

"There was extreme respect in this room," Jae Ellis said. "Everyone has a good heart, but getting out of the comfort zone and talking about race isn't always easy."

"When one person reveals vulnerability, it makes others feel they can too," he said.

Butler said that when people listen first, action can follow in communities. The organization is planning a Together We Heal event July 15 for community members and police. It will include games and entertainment.

Getting Started/Comments Policy

Getting started

  1. 1. If you frequently comment on news websites then you may already have a Disqus account. If so, click the "Login" button at the top right of the comment widget and choose whether you'd rather log in with Facebook, Twitter, Google, or a Disqus account.
  2. 2. If you've forgotten your password, Disqus will email you a link that will allow you to create a new one. Easy!
  3. 3. If you're not a member yet, Disqus will go ahead and register you. It's seamless and takes about 10 seconds.
  4. 4. To register, either go through the login process or just click in the box that says "join the discussion," type your comment, and either choose a social media platform to log you in or create a Disqus account with your email address.
  5. 5. If you use Twitter, Facebook or Google to log in, you will need to stay logged into that platform in order to comment. If you create a Disqus account instead, you'll need to remember your Disqus password. Either way, you can change your display name if you'd rather not show off your real name.
  6. 6. Don't be a huge jerk or do anything illegal, and you'll be fine.

Texarkana Gazette Comments Policy

The Texarkana Gazette web sites include interactive areas in which users can express opinions and share ideas and information. We cannot and do not monitor all of the material submitted to the website. Additionally, we do not control, and are not responsible for, content submitted by users. By using the web sites, you may be exposed to content that you may find offensive, indecent, inaccurate, misleading, or otherwise objectionable. You agree that you must evaluate, and bear all risks associated with, the use of the Gazette web sites and any content on the Gazette web sites, including, but not limited to, whether you should rely on such content. Notwithstanding the foregoing, you acknowledge that we shall have the right (but not the obligation) to review any content that you have submitted to the Gazette, and to reject, delete, disable, or remove any content that we determine, in our sole discretion, (a) does not comply with the terms and conditions of this agreement; (b) might violate any law, infringe upon the rights of third parties, or subject us to liability for any reason; or (c) might adversely affect our public image, reputation or goodwill. Moreover, we reserve the right to reject, delete, disable, or remove any content at any time, for the reasons set forth above, for any other reason, or for no reason. If you believe that any content on any of the Gazette web sites infringes upon any copyrights that you own, please contact us pursuant to the procedures outlined in the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (Title 17 U.S.C. § 512) at the following address:

Copyright Agent
The Texarkana Gazette
15 Pine Street
Texarkana, TX 75501
Phone: 903-794-3311
Email: webeditor@texarkanagazette.com