The Mediation Center Hosts Courageous Conversation to Commemorate National Day of Racial Healing

The National Day of Racial Healing is traditionally observed the day following the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. federal holiday. This observance provides a special opportunity to reflect on the legacy of Dr. King and to continue his work of promoting peace and equity throughout our communities. Local nonprofit the Mediation Center of the Coastal Empire is celebrating the National Day of Racial Healing by hosting an event designed to engage the community in important dialogue.

On Jan. 17 from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m., the Mediation Center invites community members to participate in a “Courageous Conversation on Rectifying Racial Harms”, which will take place at the Tompkins Regionals Community Center at 2333 Ogeechee Road. This is the second year the Mediation Center has hosted an event to commemorate the NDORH. 

“Last year, we held a community conversation on what it means to be a neighbor. We’re celebrating it differently this time,” said Jill Cheeks, the Mediation Center’s executive director. 

Each year, the NDORH organizers identify a specific theme for the observance. The theme for 2023 is “Redefining and Rebuilding Community.” In accordance with this theme, the Mediation Center’s event aims to bring the community together with an open and honest dialogue about rectifying racial harms.

“Savannah has had a history of various racial harms that may have set back the community. We want to address those harms, and we want to bring the community together to start to have those conversations on how those harms can be rectified,” said KeyShawn Housey, the Mediation Center’s youth programs associate and event organizer. 

Housey believes that having these tough conversations is integral to the progress of the greater Savannah community. 

“When we talk about these issues and actually start to work on them, you will see a better community. You will see a better Savannah,” he said. 

Cheeks and Housey hope that the conversation circle serves as a safe space where locals can feel comfortable voicing their opinions about difficult issues. To that end, there will be a facilitator, a notekeeper, and a timekeeper to ensure that everyone has ample time to share and that there’s a record of everything that was discussed. 

“We want to keep those notes, and we want to send them all to our city leaders and community leaders,” Housey explained.

By hosting this courageous conversation, the Mediation Center aims to build upon Dr. King’s work to promote equity and peace here in Savannah. 

“Dr. King worked essentially his entire life for the freedom of all people. . . He has been a fighter for all people and we want to do the same thing in Savannah. We have these tough conversations. . . It is not my intention for them to be nice . . . or pretty. These are tough conversations that affect the lives of people living here in Savannah. The way we are growing, we need to make sure that citizens feel like they are a part of the discussion,” Housey said.

“When I think about Dr. King’s work, [he was] a vessel for the people, for dignity. . . Ensuring that people have decent living conditions. Making sure that people earn enough. Making sure that people have enough food. The basic necessities, that was part of the work of Dr. King. And we want to have those conversations to lead to improvements in those areas,” he added.

Housey, Cheeks and the Mediation Center team hope to cross racial, socioeconomic and other demographic lines, to unite the community in this important dialogue. 

“I want to make sure that these different groups feel comfortable enough to come and bring what they have to offer to these conversations, because they are a part of Savannah as well,” he expressed.

The courageous conversation will also be streamed on Facebook Live on the Mediation Center’s page for those who can’t make it to the in-person meeting. This event is a part of the center’s monthly peacebuilding initiative. For more information, visit mediationsavannah.com/

About The Author

Chantel Britton

Chantel Britton is a compelling storyteller with an ever-growing curiosity. She's built a rewarding writing career for herself in addition to serving five years as a Public Affairs Officer in the U.S. Army Reserve. She's an NPR nerd with a deep passion for all things travel, sustainable living and adventure. She...
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