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'Conversations About Race' Coming To Dallas

BJ Austin

The city of Dallas is launching a series of "Conversations About Race" this month. Four public dialogues will lead up to "Dallas Faces Race" next fall -- a national conference in the "Facing Race" series. Mayor Mike Rawlings says the preliminary series is not about racism or discrimination, but to help get a bigger picture of how people perceive and understand the different cultures and ethnicities that make up the city.

The first session is scheduled for 10 a.m. Sept. 21 at City Performance Hall, 2520 Flora St.

That event will focus on media and race and how stereotypes are perpetuated or broken. Other sessions look at youth, business, and government and race. The event is free and open to the public, but seating is limited. Online registration is required – you can register here.

Conversations about Race co-chairs include Rawlings, Dallas City Council member Dwaine Caraway and Dallas County Commissioner Elba Garcia.

“What happens is we have a public event happen and then we get all churned up about it and that bubbles to the surface and we say ‘We need to do better, we need to trust each other,’” Rawlings said. “But we can’t do it in those times. Those are tough times. You need to do it in a thoughtful matter and start to understand each other.”

Panelists at the Sept. 21 session will include Bob Ray Sanders, Robert Wilonsky, Crystal Ayala, Gerald Britt and Mollie Finch Belt.  The discussion will be moderated by Skot Welch, co-host of Radio in Black and White.

Former KERA reporter BJ Austin spent more than 25 years in broadcast journalism, anchoring and reporting in Atlanta, New York, New Orleans and Dallas. Along the way, she covered Atlanta City Hall, the Georgia Legislature and the corruption trials of Louisiana Gov. Edwin Edwards.