"A Civil Society" Discussion Group Comes to Springfield

SPRINGFIELD, Mo. - The "Civil Rights and A Civil Society" discussion came to Springfield's Library Center Tuesday night.

The presenter Andrea Blackman, the library division manager at the Nashville Public Library said the goal is to help people create a respectful environment in schools and communities.

The session focused on awareness of racism and social injustice.

Blackman said one reason she started these discussion groups is to raise awareness to the division in our country right now.

"With the wake of police brutality or racial tension all across the country," explained Blackman, "our program, civil rights and civil society address those problems, because it allows people to come together to have very productive conversations."

An activity Blackman asked participants to do is to ask themselves "what was the fear?"

"What was the fear of Charlottesville? What was the fear of segregated schools in 1957?" asked Blackman, "look at ourselves and what's the fear now. What's stopping us from looking at the human connection with our neighbor."

Blackman started this program back in 2015 with only law enforcement professionals at the time. 

Now it expanded and reached over 6,000 participants so far.

"We're hoping to at least reach that many this year," said Blackman.

Participant Jeanne Duffey said it's important to have open and honest discussions about prejudices in our everyday life.

"I'm really eager to hear what people have to say," said Duffey, "and I think it's good that we get together and talk about these things."

Blackman said if you missed Tuesday's session, she encourages everyone to start a conversation in your local communities.

"And methodically thinking about active listening and not worrying about disagreeing, more about hearing each other as humans," said Blackman.

Blackman has been taking this program all over the country and said if you're interested in starting your own discussion group, feel free to reach out to her using the Nashville Public Library's website.

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