One America Community Efforts
Little Bar

Program: Human Relations in New Orleans: A Day of Healing, New Orleans, LA
Contact(s): Dorinda Mack, Executive Assistant: (504) 827-3395
Purpose: To discuss issues and discover resources for improving race relations

Background Program Operations Outcomes


In 1996, racial tensions in New Orleans had seemed to polarize the community. As a result, the city's human relations committee created Human Relations in New Orleans: A Day of Healing to reduce racial and ethnic tension. The program is based on the beliefs that dialogue is important and that citizens possess the collective wisdom necessary to analyze and solve community problems.

Program Operations

Developed in collaboration with five area organizations, the program is a one-day event featuring a series of topics, beginning with establishing the rules for facilitating potentially hostile conversations. The discussion then moves into "ice-breaking" techniques that allow participants to describe their personal history. Participants then brain storm on ideas to achieve good community relations. Each dialogue group is provided with a day-long agenda created by the planning committee, as well as a set of ground rules to ensure a safe, respectful and honest discussion. A trained facilitator moderates each group. Past participants have included an array of citizens, business leaders, elected officials, clergy, and community representatives from the city's various cultural and economic backgrounds.

Outcomes and Significant Accomplishments

Participants in the first conference in 1996 appealed to businesses concerning the school board's lack of funding. These businesses responded by adopting 20 of the lowest-rated schools; they donated needed materials identified by the respective schools, as well as provided tutors from their staff. At the first conference approximately 275 people were in attendance; in 1997, the attendance reached over 500 people.

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