Bibb County Commissioner and local minister Lonzy Edwards is well aware the community has hosted discussions on race before.
He himself has hosted a series of community-based discussions at his church, Mount Moriah Baptist, for the past few years.
The church at 2789 Millerfield Road in Macon will once again host a series of discussions beginning tonight and taking place every Thursday in February as part of Black History Month.
But Edwards wants something more out of this year’s discussions. He wants the community to come together to create a specific vision to improve race relations in Macon.
“Race continues to be a big problem in our country,” Edwards said. “We’re talking about it and trying to build relationships across the racial divide. It’s been a rather fertile and fruitful time of building friendships. But at the same time, we have to confront things.”
Edwards is calling this month’s dialogue “From Talking To Walking: Effecting Social Change Through Conversation on Community and Collaboration.” The “talking to walking,” Edwards said, refers to people “walking the walk” when it comes to making changes in race relations rather than just “talking the talk.”
Edwards said without a vision statement — not a mission statement — the community doesn’t know in what direction it is headed. “I hope to involve the whole community into the visioneerings,” he said. “We’ve gotten into the habit of doing things the same old way and expecting things to change.”
Macon City Councilman Larry Schlesinger has attended several similar meetings discussing issues of race over the years and said they can be of great benefit to a community.
“Anytime you bring together people of diverse backgrounds and have them communicate with each other, it can be valuable,” he said. “The opportunities don’t always present themselves to foster communication.”
Edwards said he plans on speaking for 15 or 20 minutes, then have a Q&A session. After that, people at the meetings will split into smaller groups to engage in more meaningful dialogues. “Hopefully, it will be purposeful and not just rehashing old problems,” Edwards said. “It’s open to the whole community. We want it to be a constructive dialogue.”
To contact writer Phillip Ramati, call 744-4334.