Quarterly talks on race positive for community

The differences that exist between people — notably race, culture and religion — can make relationships challenging without an attempt at mutual understanding.

A local pastors group, to its credit, is trying to broach that challenge by getting community residents together to facilitate productive discussion about such an important issue.

The African American Pastors Alliance conducted “Quarterly Conversation: A Dynamic Discussion on Race” on Dec. 7 in Columbus City Hall, the first of a series of planned conversations.

Considering problems that have occurred nationwide, raising tension between black communities and police officers, it’s important to talk proactively ahead of potential conflict locally — and that’s exactly how this is playing out.

The first program in this series featured a discussion about the senses of exclusion and inclusion, and how even subtle comments and actions can have a significant and negative impact. Cultural diversity was discussed as it pertains to law enforcement. Local civil rights supporters and law enforcement representatives were among those who attended.

The quarterly conversation also was a good follow-up from a three-day series in August that addressed similar topics.

Although the crowd that attended the quarterly conversation was smaller than hoped, those who attended can be seed planters, sharing firsthand information from the event in an effort to help grow participation at future ones.

Columbus has had a long history of embracing civil rights dating back more than 50 years, notably with the 1962 launch of the Human Rights Commission to assist persons facing discrimination. But no community can rest on its laurels, even one as progressive on such matters as Columbus.

The quarterly conversations now underway represent a great next step in the city’s welcoming community efforts.