Coming together for listening, learning, caring and conversation, across racial and cultural diversities.
The Race Unity Group began in November of 2014 as a number of diverse community leaders and members of various religious traditions gathered to carry out the wishes of Connie Donley. Connie and her husband Floyd are Caucasian and for 20 years had been active in Paducah supporting the cause of Race Unity. They were both members of the NAACP. Connie was a long time member of the Interracial Women’s Group helping each year to bring the annual “Calling All Colors” one-day conference for middle-schoolers among the many other ways they endeavored to serve.
In the summer of 2014 Ms. Connie felt the need to do more in light of the terrible injustices that were happening all over the country to people of color. It was she who met with leaders in Paducah, many of whom she had developed friendships with over the years and requested them to meet on September 3, 2014 at 12 noon to consult about what might be done here to not only avoid conflict but to build bridges of friendship between blacks and whites. At about 9 am that morning, Connie‘s car was hit head-on by an erratic driver and both were killed instantly.
Those same leaders and friends vowed at her beautiful funeral to carry on Connie’s final wish to fruition. We worked for four months to bring the film Racial TabooTM to our city. It is a film that tries to uncover the answer to why it seems so hard to talk about “race” using history, psychology and humor. The filmmaker Brian Grimm understands that instead of needing to solve all the problems first before we can become friends, actually first becoming friends will help to solve all the problems! The movie was shown four times over April 11th and 12th of 2015 and almost 400 people viewed it and stayed for an hour of conversation to listen and talk to each other in diverse groups of ten. No one felt that an hour was nearly enough to say what was in their hearts.
Thus was born our “Continuing the Conversation” weekly meetings. We have been meeting every week since April of 2015! We are a diverse group of people who gather to talk about whatever is on our minds and hearts. There is a lot of laughter and also very serious themes discussed. We also go out to community events as a group occasionally and get together from time to time for a meal out or in each other’s homes.