Doing Good

OCU will on September 24th experience the first, and long anticipated, “One Table 2017” event where we will serve dinner to 250 diverse people of our community in a meal symbolic of our having overcome the historical divides which have long separated our people. The dinner will take place on the John Ross Memorial Bridge in downtown Rome. This will celebrate the progress of our efforts to build bridges to bring all people together.

Our efforts of the past three years have been successful in moving the needle toward the goal of true racial reconciliation. While the great changes Rome has seen since OCU was begun, are the result of the hard work and dedication of many others, OCU members have worked to create an environment where such changes were welcomed and would be allowed to flourish.

First, we have seen one of our founding members, Sundai Stevenson, be elected to the Rome City Commission. Sundai Stevenson became the first Black Woman to be elected to our city’s governing authority.

Last year Denise Downer-McKinney become the first African American, and second woman, to be selected to lead the Rome City Police Department. Denise was selected from among 25 applicants. She worked her way up from a cop on the beat to the rank of Major during her 31 years on the force before being selected as Chief of Police.

In February 2016 OCU sponsored an event it called a “HEARTS UNITED GATHERING” (HUG). It was promoted simply as a gathering to “Celebrate Rome’s Diversity”. More than 750 people of all races and creeds attended.The program featured two young men from Mississippi, one Black and one White, who shared their personal story of overcoming race and its baggage to become best friends in a place where the State, along with its flagship university, still proudly display the Confederate Flag.

On February 17th of this year, OCU sponsored its second HUG event. It advertised the program as a public discussion of the recent best selling book “Blood at the Root”. Again, a large crowd of more than 600 attended. The speaker at the event was the author himself, Patrick Phillips, who had grown up a resident of Forsyth County, Georgia. The mere fact they would come and participate in the discussion is testament that our efforts to promote the dialogue and to confront our past is bearing fruit.

Patrick told the story of the racial cleansing of his own home county which lies barely 67 miles northeast of Rome. His story detailed the 1912 lynching of three young black men by an angry white mob, over the murder of a white woman, followed by the forced removal from Forsyth of all 1100 of its black residents.

This book revealed much of one of Georgia’s darkest eras, one that had obviously not ended by time of the arrival of the Oprah Winfrey show in 1987, probably the most embarrassing televised moment in Georgia History.

We of OCU want to see the movement toward true reconciliation with our Black Brothers and Sisters continue. We understand that ours is a cause that may not be completed in our lifetime but this does not dissuade us.

Our commitment is unending and is defined by the words of John Wesley. “Do all the good you can. By all the means you can. In all the ways you can. In all the places you can. At all the times you can. To all the people you can. As long as ever you can.”

Come join with us to change the world.

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