Community Leaders Gather In D.C. To Plot Way Forward For A Divided America
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On Saturday, faith leaders, activists, and elected officials came together in Washington D.C. to discuss some of the nation’s most pressing issues. The gathering, aptly named Spirit of Change, was hosted by The Black Women’s Agenda (BWA), an organization dedicated to advancing the resources and rights of one of the country’s most marginalized groups.

“At a time when our nation is deeply divided, many people are afraid to speak openly with one another,” BWA President Gwainevere Catchings Hess said in a statement. “They want to avoid confrontation and controversy, and while this is understandable, not communicating makes matters worse.”

Hess explains that the Spirit of Change town hall is designed to provide a forum for an open, honest and civil discussion. BWA hopes that the event will “help promote a culture of peace, clarity, respect, and healing.”

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Some of the topics covered during Saturday’s gathering of thought leaders, were political tolerance, race relations, the Mueller report, and the 2020 presidential elections. Among those on-hand to lend their voice was Reverend Eric S.C. Manning, Senior Pastor, “Mother” Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, SC, T.J. Holmes, ABC News Anchor and Correspondent, and Maya Wiley, MSNBC Legal Analyst and Senior Vice President for Social Justice at the New School University.

Following the conversation, attendees were challenged to go back into their communities and start a multicultural dialogue about the things that make them both alike and different. Hess insists, “We all have a stake in America’s future, and it is time that we start exploring possibilities for building bridges that can help unite us.”

“As Black women, we know that we must collaboratively sow the seeds of hope, recognizing that hope is not the same as optimism,” Hess told ESSENCE prior to the event.  “Hope is an orientation of the spirit and the heart and it transcends us at times when everything seems hopeless. All of our lives, Black women have been nurturers, guiding others as a catalyst for change, and we will continue to be the North Star for a better world.”