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Members of Evanston’s Equity and Empowerment Commission Thursday night wrestled with how to discover and spread “truth” as part of the “Truth seeking racial equity initiative” assigned to them by the City Council.

From the discussion it appeared that the commissioners don’t see conducting or sponsoring systematic research into the history of racial relations in Evanston as part of their mission.

Instead they focused on how to engage community members in dialogue in which residents could exchange personal anecdotes about their own experiences.

“We need to convene the community to try to craft a process,” Commission Chair Jane Grover said. She suggested relying on the YWCA Evanston/North Shore’s Equity Institute as a key resource in that effort.


Jane Grover.

“We need to listen to the voice of the community,” Commissioner Kathy Lyons said, “and create spaces for the community to tell us.”

Commissioner Delores Holmes suggested having the mayor send a letter to heads of various institutions — including Northwestern University, Evanston Township High School and the Chamber of Commerce — inviting them to become a part of the discussion.”

Grover suggested using the recording studio at the Gibbs Morrison Center as a place where residents — whites as well as blacks — could record their recollections.

The commissions next meeting is scheduled for Thursday, Oct. 17.

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Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

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