| Program: || Coming Together Project, Akron, OH |
| Contact(s): || Dr. Fannie Brown, Executive Director: (330) 379-3832 |
| Purpose: || To promote racial harmony by fostering dialogue, presenting educational programs, and encouraging cultural awareness and appreciation through the arts. |
The Coming Together Project was created following a 1993 year-long series in the Akron Beacon Journal called "A Question of Color." The series analyzed the difficult state of race relations and the disparity of opportunity between blacks and whites in Akron. At the end of the series, the newspaper called on the community to work together to address the challenges addressed in the articles. After operating for an initial year under the auspices of the newspaper, the Coming Together Project has since attained its own autonomous standing as a nonprofit organization, and receives foundation funding.
The Coming Together Project functions as a coalition of more than 200 organizations that have made a public commitment to improving race relations. The Project operates several types of programs, including workshops, an annual "Race/Walk," public forums, and a speaker's bureau. Both the workshops and public forums encourage dialogue among people from different racial groups. For example, both large-scale and small-scale workshops focus participants on the values of diversity in their community, and on what actions they can take to help heal racial division. A major focus of the workshops is recognizing that diversity goes beyond the traditional black/white paradigm. The Coming Together Project also has an agreement with a local radio program to allow coalition members to discuss any activities and contributions they have made in improving the racial climate in Akron. In order to reach youth, the Project created a Teen Advisory Board that focuses on improving race relations in high school settings. About 105 students and 20 administrators participated in the Fall 1997 workshop.
Outcomes and Significant Accomplishments
This Project has been a catalyst for practical community action directed toward improving relations and understanding. For example, members of a black church and white church went on an overseas mission together to Africa. An additional indication of the program's success is in the amount of community interest in the Coming Together Project's activities. In 1997, the speaker's bureau has averaged two requests for speakers per month, and more than 25 additional organizations have joined the Project's coalition.