North Raleigh News

Raleigh Human Relations Commission hosts community dialogue forums

A series of neighborhood forums aims to give both longtime residents and newcomers a better sense of the city’s history.

The Raleigh Human Relations Committee will begin its 2015 community dialogue series with a look at four areas of the city: the Five Points, Oberlin and Oakwood neighborhoods and Southeast Raleigh.

On Saturday, panelists will provide an oral history of each area. Residents then will be able to share their ideas about how well their neighborhoods are integrated into the city as a whole.

Michael Leach, chairman of the commission, said the city’s recent development boom is just the latest milestone in a long history of the way people have cared for their neighborhoods. Knowing that history makes it easier to understand where the city is headed – and to ensure everyone is part of any further success, he said.

“It’s the whole idea that the people in each neighborhood are the essence of those places and have built Raleigh into what it is,” he said.

Brad Thompson, a former city council member who has lived in Raleigh since the mid-1960s, will address the history of neighborhoods in Southeast Raleigh at the forum.

He said he wants to convey the importance of educational institutions like Shaw and Saint Augustine’s universities and the role the historically African-American neighborhoods have played in the growth of the the city.

“It’s a community made up of people who are capable, who have long invested in making their community and the city a great place,” he said.

Later this year, the human relations commission will hold forums about the African-American diaspora, transgender population, housing and homelessness and youth safety.

Leach said that in the past the forums have been critical in forging new city policy, such as a nondiscrimination rules, and increasing awareness of seniors’ transportation needs and a lack of affordable housing.

The commission uses the information it receives to make recommendations to the city council about government services and policies.

“We’re going to use those forums to hear what those people tell us about service provision and about being integrated into the community,” Leach said.