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Cincinnati's National Day of Racial Healing aims to inspire community to take action

'It's really about moving people in their purpose'
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Posted at 7:00 AM, Jan 18, 2021
and last updated 2021-01-18 17:04:20-05

CINCINNATI — The last year left a lot of people hurting – from the COVID-19 pandemic and economic crisis, from the deaths that led to protests for racial justice or from the distressing combination.

But an upcoming event is designed to help the healing begin.

Cincinnati’s National Day of Racial Healing will happen on Jan. 19. It will be hosted by the University of Cincinnati’s Center for Truth, Racial Healing and Transformation and All-In Cincinnati, a coalition that has been working since 2018 to address the region’s racial divide.

“The conversations and issues and challenges that Cincinnati faces are really not unique to Cincinnati. They’re issues that cities and municipalities and communities face across the country,” said Tia Sherèe Gaynor, founding director of the Center for Truth, Racial Healing and Transformation. “We wanted to put together an event that spoke to – and lifted up – the work that was happening in Cincinnati but was applicable across the country.”

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Tia Sherèe Gaynor

The event seeks to build upon conversations and work that has been happening since All-In Cincinnati released a report called “All-In Cincinnati: Equity Is the Path to Inclusive Prosperity.” It also will serve as a community introduction to the Center for Truth, Racial Healing and Transformation, which launched this past summer.

“Overall, I want to create a space where we can usher in hope,” said Denisha Porter, director of All-In Cincinnati. “So that despite what happened with the Capitol and last year in 2020, there’s still hope and that we can still move forward and that to know that, collectively, if we come together, we can make Hamilton County the most equitable county in the nation.”

Cincinnati’s National Day of Racial Healing will offer online sessions and activities from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. Jan. 19. It’s free and open to everyone. About 830 people had registered as of one week before the event, which is organized in such a way that people can attend whatever portions and programs work best for them, Gaynor said.

“Our expectation is not that people are there from nine in the morning till seven at night, although we certainly will be there, and we would love if people want to engage in that way,” she said. “But also knowing that people have lives, people will be at work, and so if you want to do the morning session, if you want to engage in a lunch break at noon and do yoga and meditation, if you want to celebrate with us in the evening with a DJ and heal and enjoy, you can do that in a way that connects with you and that speaks to you and your interest.”

One session in the morning is designed for teens and young adults to explain the causes of inequities in education, housing, health, economic mobility and justice, Porter said.

“It’s really about people moving in their purpose, understanding where they can take action,” she said. “It’s really important for us to bridge that gap between us and older adults. We all have a purpose in this cause right now.”

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Denisha Porter

Porter added that she hopes more people will be inspired to become part of All-In Cincinnati and work toward making the region a better place for everyone.

“We are hoping that people are moved towards action. We hope that people are moved towards supporting our organizations and other organizations who are engaged in racial healing,” Gaynor said. “Anything that really gets the people who are joining us on the 19th moving towards a place where they are engaged in conversation, where they are engaged in education, where they are engaged in any kind of action that advances conversations around race and racial healing and justice.”

The first hurdle, she said, is having honest conversations with people whose opinions, experiences and perspectives are different.

“In order to heal, we have to tell the truth. We have to be honest. We have to be open,” Gaynor said. “Our event is a way to start having those conversations.”

You can find more information about Cincinnati’s National Day of Racial Healing – including how to register – online. Sponsors of the event include: Greater Cincinnati Foundation; The Charles Phelps Taft Research Center at the University of Cincinnati; HealthPath Foundation of Ohio; Interact for Health; United Way of Greater Cincinnati; Intersections; and Praxis Matters. Donations can be made by texting HEAL to 50503.

Lucy May writes about the people, places and issues that define our region – to celebrate what makes the Tri-State great and shine a spotlight on issues we need to address. To reach Lucy, email lucy.may@wcpo.com. Follow her on Twitter @LucyMayCincy.