What happened next wasn't what was originally planned. The video changed but the emphasis remained the same; to share with a wider audience a historical perspective of racism in our country. The 13 decided to show Hidden Colors: The Rules of Racism (click for trailer).
Reverend Kenneth Board, Marilyn Board, Ann Rundall and Dick Rundall volunteered and formed the Coordinating Committee of the Eliminate Racism Initiative. They reached out to community; churches and organizations and invited people to the viewing. Over five evenings, people gathered at Pilgrim Baptist Church. Each evening a light dinner was served and 30 minutes of the video was shown. Then participants broke into small, assigned groups and shared their feelings about what they learned. The small groups reported back to the entire group. Midway through the sessions, the conversations shifted from feelings to action. The viewings ended but the question remained, "What next?"
A meeting was held a few weeks after the viewing sessions to identify racial issues in the Rockford area. The participants broke into small groups and brainstormed the issues of racism in our community. The small groups then reported (eliminating duplication) their 3-5 top picks to the larger group. These were placed into categories and written on poster sheets. Seven categories were created. Participants voted for the three categories that they thought were the most pressing to address and ultimately resolve. Four categories emerged on top. These were Education, Criminal Justice, Relationships, and Economic Development. They became the four Eliminate Racism Actions Teams.
At the next meeting, participants chose which action team they wanted to focus on. Each team had instructions for that evening that helped in the formation of the teams. From there, the teams created a mission statement, goals and strategies.
While the teams meet on different days, the larger group would also gather to share their progress. When the larger group got together, we would have a potluck meal. The food was delicious and gave everyone an opportunity to connect socially. Our gatherings pacified hunger, ignited passion for change and fed our desire for unity.
Today our organization continues to work in teams. Our goals and strategies have evolved over time. New friends have stepped up while some have had to step back and through it all, we continue to focus on eliminating racism. Not a small task.
While COVID has put a pause to some things and pushed us to meet virtually more than in person, in the summer of 2021, we saw the return of one aspect of our group....food; an outdoor picnic that brought us together.