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One America - Southern Indiana Study Circles on Race Relations

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One America

Program: Southern Indiana Study Circles on Race Relations, Jeffersonville, IN
Contact(s): Joseph Easley, President: (812) 282-9868, or Ted Steward, Coordinator: (812) 945-0868
Purpose: To bring people of all racial, ethnic and religious backgrounds in Southern Indiana together to build understanding through dialogue and cooperative effort

Background Program Operations Outcomes


Concerned Citizens for Racial Harmony (CCRH) is an independent, nonprofit organization open to interested individuals and organizations (business, church, school system, local government, etc.). CCRH was created in the summer of 1993 by two pastors (one black, one white) serving neighboring United Methodist churches in Jeffersonville, Ind. Over the next three years, it sponsored two race relations symposiums for members of six downtown churches. CCRH used a variety of methods to start a discussion on race: In 1994, it used the local high school theater's original production, "School Colors," to start the discussion; in 1995, it used a concert by a local black Grammy Award-winning gospel singer; and in 1996, it used a pilot program, "Study Circles on Race Relations," to engage 65 people in a conversation on race.

Program Operations

After the pilot program, CCRH decided to plan the "Southern Indiana Community-wide Study Circles Program on Race Relations and Ethnic Diversity" for the fall of 1997. The program targeted persons who lived or worked in counties in Southern Indiana but was open to anyone in the Louisville, Ky., metropolitan area. Support of local business, government, school, churches, and media was sought, donations were raised to fund the project, and the program was publicized widely. About 100 persons attended a kick-off event in August. Registrants were assigned to groups of 10-12 persons with two trained facilitators. Each group met weekly for six sessions.

Outcomes and Significant Accomplishments

Three hundred people participated in 25 study circles, and 150 persons attended a closing celebration on November 2, 1997. Some groups continue to meet and share experiences. Two youth study circles were held in a local high school during the spring of 1998, serving as pilots for future activity. CCRH and the Human Relations Commission of Louisville, KY, are working toward a joint metro-area study circle program in early 1999.

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