COLORADO SPRINGS — It was a hot, summer afternoon in Acacia Park, but against the backdrop a very frank conversation was happening. The event is called "A Place For Us" and featured a panel of African-American doctors, counselors, advocates and school administrators; Making the statement that people of color need representation.
"We have art all across the city, is any of it done by Black artists? No," said Licensed Professional Counselor and Poet, Ashley Cornelius. "I have been here and grew up here, and I have never once had a black doctor in my entire life," she explained.
Cornelius, along with four other panelists, spoke about systemic racism and how it has affected their lives, from access to healthcare, to running for office.
"We need to mess up the system! We don't need to fix it! It's already supporting and upholding the values meant for others," she said.
One of the organizers of the event asked the panelists what systemic steps White people can do, to move this country forward. One panelist said acknowledging racism exists, is a good first step.
"Two days ago the state of Colorado said that racism is a public health crisis in our state, " said Dr. Jamal Ratchford, a Professor of History. "This is captain obvious, it's not news for anybody."
From healthcare, housing, and education disparities, to how we treat one another, each speaker talked about how everyone can be a part of the solution, no matter your color.
"It's about one race, and it's about the human race," said Regina Guy-English, a member of the Board of Directors for District 2. "I'm so tired of the divisiveness. The Republicans versus the Democrats and this and that. Why can't we just make the best decisions for everyone?" she asked the crowd.
The panelists also challenged people in the audience, to stand up against racism, support minority-owned businesses, and educate themselves about race.
"It's up to me to teach my children, it's up to me to make sure my children are disciplined, and that my house is in order," said local Minister, Nicholas Crutcher.
They also stressed the importance of diversity and experiencing different perspectives, while putting words into action.
"If you're going to say all lives matter, you'd better mean it. If you're going to be about it, be about it!" Cornelius explained.