The La Crosse Human Rights Commission is hosting the first in a series of community listening sessions tomorrow evening at the Black River Beach Neighborhood Center. Tomorrow’s session will focus on discrimination and barriers to the African-American community.
As Fox 25/48’s Erin O’Brien explains, the event comes at the right time for La Crosse.
Though the Human Rights Commission has been planning the listening sessions for several months, they say tomorrow’s focus on the African-American community is especially timely in light of recent violence. After hundreds gathered last week for a community healing session, they expect last month’s shootings to come up again tomorrow.
“I think it will come up and it needs to come up. That’s a community concern. But then we have to think about what’s the solution to the problem.”
But all topics are welcome.
“I think they’re probably going to bring up the schools, some of the interactions with the police, maybe some of the neighborhoods and the conditions of the neighborhoods, or there may be issues that they’re having with county or city agencies as far as maybe not feeling like it’s welcoming or comfortable.”
The Human Rights Commission did address concerns that the event is being held on the North Side of town as opposed to the South Side, where recent violence has taken place. But they say it’s worth it for people to travel outside their own communities to hear what others have to say.
President of the UW-La Crosse Black Student Unity, Kalon Bell, says he definitely plans to attend the session. He says change takes time, but this is a good place to start.
“There’s a process to overcome the obstacles that face the African-American community. I’m a student but other people are coming from the labor force, there are young kids, high school students, who want to share what their experiences are. So in order to share where we’re coming from it takes some sort of listening experience first.”
And the Human Rights Commission agrees that this is just the first step.
“Oftentimes when we have things like this, people leave or they come with this mentality that like, ‘you know what, people just hear, it’s another thing, we shared our stories, now walk away, and there’s nothing that’s going to come out of it.’ But I want people to leave with the sentiment like, “Something is going to take place. My stories, my suggestions, they were heard, and we’re going to see what happens in the future. We’re doing something, we’re moving somewhere.”
In La Crosse, Erin O’Brien, Fox 25 48 News at 9.
Tomorrow’s listening session will be held at 6pm at the Black River Beach Neighborhood Center on Rose Street.