GREENSBORO — This city is diverse, with much to offer. It helped to birth the civil rights movement with the 1960s sit-ins at the downtown Woolworth lunch counter.
It's also characterized by inequality and racial injustice, say respondents to a recent survey.
Organizers of a Sept. 16 community-wide discussion want to encourage residents to address that gap, to create a community that is equitable and thriving.
They will host "Now is the Time!" on Wednesday. The evening of panel discussions, interspersed with music and poetry, will take place at the International Civil Rights Center and Museum.
Organizer Lyndon Rego aims to "unite community leaders working on racism and inequality to appeal to the broader community."
He wants the community "to join to create a Greensboro that is inclusive, welcoming and conducive to the success of all people, not just those who have historically had more access and opportunities."
"The idea is to offer ways that we can lean in to support efforts to increase equity and decrease racial injustice — to turn our beloved city into the Beloved Community," Rego said.
Those issues of injustice have received more attention nationwide amid protests over the Memorial Day death in Minneapolis of George Floyd at the hands of police officers there.
Rego runs an organization called CoMetta.
He designed it as an initiative to reconnect, depolarize and revitalize communities.
Since November, Rego and CoMetta have brought local speakers and audiences together in monthly public conversations called "Stories of Us" to help build community.
In May, the pandemic prompted it to go online.
This summer, CoMetta began an effort called ReGenesis Greensboro. It started by surveying the community about the city's present and future.
About 325 people responded anonymously, most white and female.
It revealed concerns about structural racism and inequality, about poverty, about a lack of safety and justice, Rego said.
Its conclusions: The city has much going for it, with its small-town feel, its arts scene and environment.
But deep concerns about inequality permeate almost everything, it revealed.
Respondents indicated that city and county governance isn’t adequate or responsive to these challenges, Rego said.
He views Wednesday's event as the first of gatherings focused on key themes in the survey.
"Now is the Time" takes its name from the call to action in the "I Have a Dream" speech of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.
CoMetta and the Civil Rights Museum have partnered with Deftable and AJOY Consulting to host the event.
Among its sponsors are the Community Foundation of Greater Greensboro, Greensboro Jaycees, human relations organization NCCJ, and Bank of America.
Zitty Nxumalo of Deftable will facilitate four panel discussions, focusing on advocacy, equity, social support and community leadership. Each will last about 20 minutes.
The panels will include representatives from organizations such as Greensboro Rising, the Beloved Community Center, NCCJ, Racial Equity Institute, FaithAction International House, The Almond Connection, Guilford for All, One Family One Direction as well as Mayor Nancy Vaughan and council member Goldie Wells.
"We intend for this event to accent the positive efforts by multiple community-based organizations and individuals," Rego said, "and be a powerful, unifying experience for our city."
Contact Dawn DeCwikiel-Kane at 336-373-5204 and follow @dawndkaneNR on Twitter.