Conversation on Race and Education – Durham, NC

Thursday, June 18, 2015
300 N. Roxboro Street
Main Auditorium


Bert L’Homme, Superintendent of Durham Public Schools presented to the community the “State of Durham Public Schools”.

Durham Public Schools have come a long way since August 2000 when Superintendent Ann Denlinger announced that 51.5% of African American students were failing and 80% of white students were succeeding.

Years of community protests and school board changes led to a high level of community engagement through the Superintendent’s Task Force on Closing the Achievement Gap along with numerous grassroots efforts taking on the high rate of out-of-school suspensions.


Superintendent Bert L’Homme reported on the Positive Behavior Interventions and Supports (PBIS) initiative and other programs to improve graduation rates and close the achievement gap.



Contact: or (919) 824-0659

Education Not Incarceration – Columbus, GA

Monday, April 27, 2015 6:00-8:00 pm
Columbus Public Library
3000 Macon Road Columbus, GA 31906


MCSD Speakers
– Tammi Clarke, Director, Project AWARE/PBIS
– Reginald Griffin, Coordinator, Edgewood Student Services Center
– Eddie Lindsey, Principal, Key Elementary

The speakers described plans for progress with their projects and schools, and shared challenges and opportunities they see.

This event was a response to Superintendent of Education, David Lewis calling for community organizations and neighbors to engage in the “Great Conversation” outlined in the Jamie Vollmer book, Schools Cannot Do It Alone.

Contact: Theresa El-Amin or (762) 821-1107

Conversation on Race and Economic Inequality – Durham, NC

Thursday, April 23, 2015 6:00pm
Durham Main Library
300 N Roxboro St.
Durham, NC

Featured Speakers

William “Bill” Bell
Mayor of Durham, NC
Mayor Bell will spoke on the City of Durham Poverty Reduction Initiative (PRI) sharing his vision and progress to date.





Adrienne Harreveld
Consortium on Social Equity, Sanford School of Public Policy, Duke University
Adrienne, Research Coordinator for the Duke-UNC Initiative on Poverty and Inequality, will presented her findings.




The forum was organized by Southern Anti-Racism Network (SARN).

Conversation on Race and Economic Inequality

Thursday, February 19 at 6:00pm
Columbus Public Library
3000 Macon Road
Columbus, GA

Morton Harris, attorney for 55 years at the prestigious Hatcher-Stubbs law firm, presented data on the growing wealth gap. Katherine White, CSU Assistant Professor assisted Morton Harris with a PowerPoint presentation.

Participants were be asked to THINK BIG on ways to end poverty, increase employment opportunities, create affordable housing and end hunger in Columbus Georgia.

Hosted by Southern Anti-Racism Network Steering Committee: Kwabena Ali, Theresa El-Amin, Tom Graves, Alberta Hardy, Natasha Hardy, Cathy Hawkins, Wandra Jordan, Stella Mendoza, Hilda Perez, Katherine White.

Event was free and open to the public.
Contact: or 762-821-1107

Community Speak Out on Crime and Law Enforcement

Tuesday, February 10, 2015
Mildred Terry Library
640 Veterans Parkway
Columbus, GA

Residents of Columbus expressed their concerns and offered solutions on crime and law enforcement issues identified on Tuesday, January 27 at the “Conversation on Law Enforcement and Community Trust”.

A “fishbowl” format was be used to allow 4-5 speakers to be in conversation on similar concerns. Groups rotated out of the fishbowl until all speakers had an opportunity to be in the conversation.

Chief Boren, Marshal Countryman and Sheriff Darr were invited to listen to community concerns. Time was preserved for law enforcement agencies to respond to issues and proposals brought up during the discussion.

Hosted by Southern Anti-Racism Network Steering Committee:

Kwabena Ali, Theresa El-Amin, Tom Graves, Alberta Hardy, Natasha Hardy, Cathy Hawkins, Wandra Jordan, Stella Mendoza, Hilda Perez, Katherine White

For further information, or 762-821-1107

Law Enforcement and Community Trust‏

Tuesday, January 27, 2015
6:00 – 8:00pm

Columbus Public Library,
3000 Macon Road, Auditorium

Major Freddie Blackmon, Columbus Police Department
Marshal Greg Countryman
Sheriff John Darr

Theresa El-Amin, Regional Director, Southern Anti-Racism Network

The three law enforcement officers were asked to provide a brief history of their agencies and to describe programs initiated to promote positive community relations with law enforcement.

At the tribute to Shirley B Winston on December 31, Chief Boren mentioned that twenty-five (25) Columbus Police officers have been killed in the line of duty since CPD began keeping records.  Participants at the forum will saw the names of all 25 fallen members of the Columbus Police Department from 1874 to 2013.

Fountain City Poetry Slam artists – Black Fist and Unique brought spoken word on the timely topic of community and law enforcement.

Community policing and the effectiveness of body cameras were addressed by speakers and attendees familiar with police training requirements and proposals for reforms of police agencies.

The forum was organized by the Columbus steering committee of the Southern Anti-Racism Network (SARN): Kwabena Ali, Russell Chambers, Theresa El-Amin, Tom Graves, Alberta Hardy, Natasha Hardy, Cathy Hawkins, Wandra Jordan, Stella Mendoza, Hilda Perez and Katherine White.

The event was free and open to the public.

Contact: or 762-821-1107

Conversation on Race and Criminal Justice

En Espanol

Reparations Now!

Thursday, October 23, 6:00-8:00 p.m.
Hayti Heritage Center
804 Old Fayetteville Street, Durham


This forum was the second in a series of conversations to address the impact of “250 years of slavery; 90 years of Jim Crow; 60 years of separate but equal; 35 years of state-sanctioned redlining” as described by Ta-Nehisi Coates in his acclaimed contribution, “The Case For Reparations” printed in the June 2014 issue of The Atlantic.

Larry Hall
N.C. House of Representatives

Sandra Velez
Founding Director, Bridges/Puentes prison ministry

Artemesia Stanberry
Associate Professor, Political Science
North Carolina Central University (NCCU)

State Representative Larry Hall talked about legislation passed and needed to address racial disparities in criminal cases. Sandra Velez provided an eye-witness report of incarceration and its impact on families.

This event was free and open to the general public. Refreshments catered by Blue Coffee Café. For more information contact Rita Gonzalez (Spanish/English) or 919-949-6352.

Conversaciones de Raza y Justicia Penal

Indemnizaciones Ahora!

Jueves, 23 de octubre, 6:00pm – 8:00pm
Hayti Heritage Center, 804 Fayetteville Street, Durham, NC


Este foro es el segundo de una serie de conversaciones dirigidas sobre el impacto de “250 anos de esclavitud; 90 anos de Jim Crow; 60 anos de separacion pero igual; 35 anos cambiando lineas de distritos con sanciones estatales “Redlining” como describe Ta-Nehisi Coates en su articulo de gran contribucion y reconocida “The Case For Reparations” publicado en junio del 2014 revista The Atlantic.

Oradores Invitados
Larry Hall
Camara de Representantes – NC

Sandra Velez
Directora y Fundadora, Bridges/Puentes Reentry Prison Ministry

Artemesia Stanberry
Profesor Asociado, Siencia Politica
North Carolina Central University (NCCU)

Representante Estatal Larry Hall hablara sobre legislacion aprobada y la necesidad de hablar sobre los puntos de disparidades en caso criminal.  Sandra Velez poveera testimonio de el impacto al las familias y encarcelamiento.

Este evento es gratis y abierto para el public general.  Refrescos por Blue Coffee Café. Para mas informacion: Rita Gonzalez (Espanol/Ingles) o 919-949-6352

Celebrating with Gwen Patton on her retirement from Trenholm Technical Community College on September 26, 2014.

L-R Emery Wright, Gwen Patton, Theresa El-Amin, Steph Guilloud

L-R Emery Wright, Gwen Patton, Theresa El-Amin, Steph Guilloud

That “peace of mind” is elusive

The following letter was written by SARN Board President Theresa El-Amin and published in the Columbus Ledger-Enquirer on September 4, 2014.  The letter was written in response to a piece written by senior reporter Chuck Williams (included at the end of this post).

That “peace of mind” is elusive

“Someone is stealing our peace of mind,” says Chuck Williams, senior editor at the Ledger-Enquirer. Chuck’s piece published on September 2 was more like a rallying cry that tells the tale of two cities.

I haven’t had “peace of mind” since I first saw young prisoners doing work that is done by public employees in all the other cities I’ve called home. I haven’t had peace of mind since I heard leaders in Columbus Consolidated Government describe the “tale of two cities” over and over again without a vision to address economic inequality.

Where there are thousands of poor children not succeeding in school, you will have criminal activity that doesn’t go away as long as you have thousands of poor children not succeeding in school. This is where friends in one of my circles would say, “Everybody knows that.”

I’ve moved around a few circles in Columbus enough to know that not everybody knows that children failing in school, a high poverty rate and criminal activity are connected.

Perhaps people really do know, and have decided “it’s somebody else’s problem.”

History has shown us that social problems are addressed by social movements that lead to changes in public policies. Otherwise, we live in fear. We fear people who don’t look like us, talk like us or live where we live.

Fear breeds oppression, repression and suppression. The outcome is a community culture of “them and us.”

Columbus needs a “collective piece of our minds.” That “Great Conversation” can’t start soon enough.

Theresa El-Amin


Chuck Williams: Someone is stealing our peace of mind

by Chuck Williams

We have a crime problem in Columbus, people.

That’s a fact that cannot be denied. Now, if only the solution was as easy to state as the obvious.

Ask your family, friends and neighbors if they have had an encounter with the criminal element of this community? You will be surprised by the answer.

In the last month I know four people who have been impacted.

• A good friend ran a Saturday afternoon errand, came back to her home in the Historic District and found it had been broken into and some items she deeply cherished were stolen. I was going to say taken, but they were stolen, just like her peace of mind.

• Another friend ran into his downtown business for a couple of minutes, forgot to lock his vehicle, and a thief reached into it and stole his bookbag. I was going to say took it, but it was stolen, just like his peace of mind.

• Friends of mine in Midtown left their home on a Tuesday morning, one of them circled back less than 30 minutes later to check on something. Their front door had been kicked in, and their TV and other electronic items were stolen. The back door of their neighbor’s home had been kicked in, as well. More stuff was stolen. I was going to say taken, but it was stolen, just like their peace of mind.

• Neighbors in Historic District were recently robbed at gunpoint of their jewelry as they stood in their front yard one night. Again, their peace of mind was stolen — and the damn fool did it by putting a gun in their face.

Four instances that I know about because they happened to people in my circle. That is a pretty rough August, isn’t it?

But here is the kicker, those thieves didn’t just steal from my friends and neighbors, they stole from me and you. They stole — and continue to steal — from our community. They stole our collective peace of mind. The guy who robbed my neighbors at gunpoint, just as well put the gun in my face. And I am not alone. I have seen the Facebook reaction to this incident. I have talked to my neighbors and friends.

The law abiding folks among us are angry and want to find a way to curb this, bring those who terrorize us — and this is a form of domestic terror — to swift justice.

The only good thing I see coming out of this is people coming together to combat it. They are using social media as a tool to communicate and inform. And there are neighborhoods and communities all over this town doing that.

But here is what this issue has also done — it has made me look at people and things differently. And that is unfortunate.

Sunday night I was walking the dogs and saw a man hanging out. He didn’t respond to me when I asked him a question. He didn’t even look at me. He was in an area that has seen a spike in crime. I called 911. My thought was simple, “Let the police sort it out.”

Three weeks ago, I would have never called 911 on that man. Never.

But that was before someone stole my peace of mind.

Chuck Williams, senior reporter,