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On Oct. 6, United Way of Metropolitan Dallas and Project Unity, brought together hundreds of North Texans with the goal of promoting racial equity in our community.
The event, called Breaking Bread and Building Bridges, was sponsored by Texas Instruments (TI) and is part of Project Unity’s Together We Dine program, a series of networking events where participants share a meal with strangers while engaging in courageous conversations about race relations. The goal is to encourage safe, productive dialogue about racial equity and break down barriers that exist between us.
Breaking Bread and Building Bridges kicked off with a panel discussion led by TI Chairman, President and CEO Rich Templeton that included two leading voices in our community: Dallas Police Chief Eddie Garcia and Project Unity Founder Reverend Richie Butler.
Then, the focus of the event shifted to facilitated dinner conversations among attendees, led by trained facilitators from Project Unity. These transformational conversations allowed everyone to contribute their perspective and lived experiences about racial issues that impact our community.
Special thanks to Tocqueville Society Circle Co-Chairs, Carol and Don Glendenning, for hosting this special event, as well to Café Momentum and the Dallas Police Department for their participation.
Read on for highlights from the panel discussion, or click below to view the video recap.
To kick off the panel discussion, Templeton reiterated that companies are only as strong as the communities in which they operate. He said one of the most important tenets of every strong community is that all people are policed equitably and that our city is a safe place to live and work for everyone. He began by asking Garcia to talk about the importance of trust in police officers.
Garcia responded, “One of the biggest things in policing, not just in Dallas, is the trust with our community. The first time that communities see us cannot always be in a moment of crisis.”
He explained that police officers are continually working to humanize themselves with the community.
“The men and women that we have in this department truly believe that we need to humanize each other with the community—that we need to have the community look at us as mothers, fathers, sons, daughters, and look through the uniform,” he said. “And we need to look at the community as well and humanize them, before we jump to conclusions as to what’s going on. They are people…who are just trying to live in their communities. And we need to work hard on that.”
Garcia acknowledged that his department has to remember the mistakes of the past.
“We need to also recognize that the badge that we wear so proudly today did not always shine so brightly—that we have made a lot of mistakes in the history of law enforcement that unfortunately has impacted our communities, in particular our communities of color,” he said.
Next, Templeton asked Butler to tell the crowd about Project Unity’s partnership with Garcia as they work toward a more equitable community.
“At Project Unity, we’ve leaned into the issue around community and police relations,” he said. “As chief has already indicated, oftentimes in communities of color, the only time we engage with law enforcement is a time of crisis. One of the things we’ve strived to do is to create opportunities or times of calm where we can recognize each other’s humanity and embrace each other and start to build relationships, for example.”
Butler closed out the panel discussion by calling on all North Texans to contribute to the goal of improving racial equity in our community.
“Together we can make a difference and a change,” he said. “I will submit this to you on this evening, whether it’s race, whether it’s police, community issues, food deserts, etcetera…If the communities that are in need could have changed the problem on their own, do you not think it would’ve been done a long time ago? What that means is that we are called collectively to be part of the change. And so I hope and pray that we leave this event tonight invigorated, inspired and committed to be part of the change.”