Every Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, Dallas Dinner Table (DDT) gathers residents to talk about race. The goal is the same — improve race relations through open, honest dialogue.
The nonprofit was founded in 1999 after James Byrd, Jr. died after being chained and dragged from the back of a pickup truck by three white men in Jasper, Texas.
“It takes vulnerability to realize we’re more alike than different,” said DRC Senior Vice President of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Jared Fitzpatrick. “Dallas Dinner Table creates healthy discussions, not debates. The Dallas Regional Chamber will continue to support DDT as they work to create an America without racism.”
DDT was founded by the DRC’s then-named Leadership Dallas Alumni Board. The DRC provided the initial $30,000 investment in 1999, and after DDT became a nonprofit in 2001, the DRC provided an additional $10,000.
Eleven DRC employees participated in this year’s virtual event, and a few of them shared their biggest takeaways:
Sharon Carson, Senior Vice President, Member Engagement: “The depth people were willing to share affirmed everyone’s commitment to learn, listen, and grow. There were lots of tears and lots of laughter. We were not ready for the conversation to end.”
Nicole Fain, Vice President, Events: “I was surprised by how many guests were outside the North Texas region. I’m delighted by the reach of the Dallas Dinner Table. Next year, I can invite people from all over the country.”
Dulari Mehta, Managing Director, Leadership Programs: “It was a safe space. It was not an easy conversation to have, but it was a necessary one.”
Meredith Sterling, Manager, Member Engagement: “We shared helpful books, including Facing Our Truth: Short Plays on Trayvon, Race, and Privilege; The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness; and The Sum of Us: What Racism Costs Everyone and How We Can Prosper Together. I also can’t recommend the Personal Librarian enough. It really is a fantastic book.
Meghan Kelley Wehner, Senior Vice President, Membership and Revenue Growth: “Doing this event once a year is not enough. We need to be having these conversations every day.”