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UALR to Explore Impacts of Racial, Ethnic Issues

Prior to the November election, UALR and three organizational partners will provide an opportunity for members of the community to talk with each other about race and ethnicity in an atmosphere free of partisanship. The first gathering is Oct. 5.

The Center for Public Collaboration is offering several “community conversations” to explore issues of how complex issues relating to race and diversity influence the upcoming election.

“Community Conversations: Talking Together When Race and Ethnicity Pull Us Apart” will feature small group discussions led by trained facilitators and structured by an issue guide from National Issues Forums. Dialogues such as these have been held successfully across the country to build understanding and mutual respect about potentially divisive issues.

“Many of us would like to have thoughtful conversations about the policy and political impacts of racial and ethnic issues, but don’t know how to begin,” said Ruth Craw, director of the Center of Public Collaboration. “Community Conversations will be a good opportunity to explore some important and complex issues that will influence the upcoming elections.”

The first community conversation will be from 6 to 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 5, in the UALR Bailey Alumni Center at 28th Street and Campus Drive West. Free parking will be available off 28th Street in Lot 13 East. The lot is across the street from the Bailey Center.

Two other conversations will follow from:

  • 6 to 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 19, at the Willlie L. Hinton Neighborhood Resource Center, 3805 W. 12th St., free parking adjacent.
  • 6 to 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 26, at the Clinton School of Public Service, 1200 President Clinton Ave., free parking on site.

The public is invited to all events, and refreshments will be served.

“This is our opportunity to be heard and to hear others as we grapple with the complexities of race and ethnicity in Arkansas and across the country,” said Ruth Shepherd, executive director of Just Communities of Arkansas.

“Facilitated conversations will provide a safe place to explore what we think about race and ethnicity, how those things affect us daily, and about how we might create a culture in Arkansas where a person’s race or ethnicity does not limit their ability to live, work, raise their family and make a positive contribution to the greater community.”

UALR has taken a leadership role in examining and discussing racial and ethnic issues in the community through its annual study Racial Attitudes in Pulaski County, now in its eighth year.

To reserve a seat for “Community Conversations: Talking Together When Race and Ethnicity Pull Us Apart,” send a note of your date preference by e-mail to or by calling 501-683-5239.

For more information, contact Craw at 501-569-8562; Shepherd at 501-372-5129, Christina Standerfer, assistant professor of the Clinton School at 501-683-5215; or Ericka Benedicto, diversity program manager at the Racial and Cultural Diversity Commission, at 501-244-5483.