by Traci Badalucco, NCR

Flier - A Catholic Conversation on Race-Religion-and The March on Washington - 08-25-13 - 1BIRMINGHAM, ALA. – Developing an African-American studies program in the U.S. to educate youth, more involvement and leadership from community members, and expanding the racial conversation across faith groups are among the solutions religious and civil leaders offered to address the country’s racial divide at a recent panel discussion here.

Almost 300 people packed the pews in Andrew Gerow Hodges Chapel at Samford University and 500 people tuned in online March 3-4 to the “Black and White in America: How Deep the Divide?” conference to participate in a dialogue that included a dozen speakers, such as Birmingham mayor William Bell.

“As leaders of our church and leaders of our community, we’ve got to find ways to bring people together around a common cause, a positive common cause, and when you do that, you break down those barriers of separation and you begin to see humanity within each other,” said Bell.

Religious and civil leaders say they organized the event to create a dialogue with community members to better address the country’s racial issues and to identify possible solutions.

“The groups were not necessarily talking to one another and that maybe has led to a lack of understanding or cooperation,” said Birmingham Bishop Robert Baker, one of the event’s organizers…

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