COLUMBUS, GA (WTVM) - Community leaders gathered at Columbus State University Thursday for the third annual Diversity Conference. Cheers from a packed room of supporters filled the Cunningham Center as noted community leaders spoke about diversity, inequality, and solutions.
A primary solution to several community issues is "starting the conversation", according to Georgia state NAACP president Francys Johnson.
"For many the promises of Americas democracy seem further and further out of reach," Johnson said.
According to event organizers, Johnson has developed effective strategies to overcome the social injustices of racial, ethnic, and gender health disparities.
"When a small group of people own the vast majority of the resources in this country," Johnson added.
Johnson said the "The Dream Lives: A Wake-up Call Perpetuating the Dream in a Climate of Haves and Have Nots" conference is what will keep the progressive momentum going in the Chattahoochee Valley.
"I know that struggle. I'm the product of a single parent home. I'm from a poor, rural, farming family. I am the first in my family to go to college. I know the great depth of that struggle," Johnson said.
The conference drew hundreds of spectators who participated in panel discussions.
Johnson along with Muscogee County Schools superintendent David Lewis, Rothschild Middle School principal Dr. Michael Forte, and Retired award winning principal Dr. Phyllis Jones held an open discussion about the current issues plaguing our education system.
"If it's good, no matter how much it cost, you sacrifice. That's where we put our priority. We put our priorities on things that we want," Jones proclaimed.
Superintendent Lewis proclaimed "the Arts" must stay in schools, "kids who can and do are those kids who learn from being part of the arts. They learn how to have discipline and structure. That's what creates creativity."
Lewis says art programs in schools helps youth to become critical thinkers as well. Johnson urged the community to get involved.
"This is an extraordinary time in America's history and it will be shaped by those who participate. For those who are sitting on the sidelines dissatisfied with the way things are you have a birth right as Americans to make this a more perfect union. To make Columbus the city that you want to live work and play in . To make the state of Georgia a place that we can all be proud of."