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One America - Forum on Race

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One America

Program: Forum on Race, Seattle, WA
Contact(s): Herman L. McKinney, Vice President for Urban Affairs, Greater Seattle Chamber of Commerce: (206) 389-7231
Purpose: To expand racial understanding through dialogue among members of different races

Background Program Operations Outcomes


The Forum on Race was created in early 1996 under the leadership of Herman McKinney of the Greater Seattle Chamber of Commerce to engage the general public in conversations on race. The forum launched two activities: 1.) "It's Time to Talk," an initiative that brings national caliber speakers to Seattle for public presentations on race and 2.) an effort to involve large numbers of Seattle area residents in conversations about race at dinner gatherings in private homes.

Program Operations

The "It's Time to Talk" Program offers nationally and internationally acclaimed speakers who discuss how race has affected their personal and professional lives. The first of these featured former U.S. Senator Bill Bradley, and Dr. John Hope Franklin, chairman of the Advisory Board to the President's Initiative on Race, has also spoken. These events are designed to bring a large number of people together to engage in dialogue through question-and-answer sessions with the featured speaker, and through group discussions in reaction to the speaker's presentation. The second strategy is to establish a series of conversations in private homes, organized around dinner groups, which bring people of different races together who may know each other in a professional capacity, but have never been in each other's homes. Through developing personal relationships of trust, these dinner groups hope to enable people to understand each other at a deeper level and thereby explore new avenues for working and living together.

Outcomes and Significant Accomplishments

More than 1,850 people have attended these luncheons as a part of the "It's Time to Talk" Program. In addition, the dinner gatherings have attracted several hundred people, and most of the participants have met again for other dinners, or to work together on other projects. The activities of the Forum on Race have been covered in The New York Times, The Seattle Times, Seattle Post Intelligencer, The Skanner, The Source and The Wall Street Journal.

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