LAKE CHARLES, La. (KPLC) - Listening and learning. That’s what the Urban League of Louisiana is doing to address challenges and create solutions for African American communities across the state.
“The first step to solving a problem is to acknowledge there’s a challenge," President and CEO of the Urban League of Louisiana, Judy Morse, said.
In each city they visit, the league starts discussions among African American communities to help solve problems they face.
“Affordable healthcare is very important, affordable housing is very important with the homeless rate going up. Job security, transportation," Athena Woods, A.B. Franklin’s legislative assistant, said.
In groups, attendees discussed the positives of their city.
“Patience on that bridge," one resident said.
“Good place to raise kids," Judy Bernard said.
“The awareness has heightened. What kind of awareness? Awareness of injustices, awareness of the needs we have," Craig Marks said.
They also discussed the importance of participating in the 2020 census.
“We just have to hope everybody is reached, that the majority of people are reached," Marks said.
“You have to put dollar signs on our children’s education, and when you start putting dollar signs on their education, you’ll make sure every house is counted," Bernard said.
Residents also tackled the tougher topics, like the role race plays in different aspects of living in Lake Charles.
“Racism plays a part all the way from economic development to the jobs, to the schools, to the division of the city," Marks said.
With what the Urban League has learned through these listening sessions, they plan to take to the first ever Empowerment and Policy Conference next month in New Orleans, where community leaders, residents and policy makers can come together to take action on these topics.
“The big idea is that policy making is not rocket science. We want to demystify it. We want individuals to know the issues they live with every day can actually be addressed, and that they should be involved and be a part of the solution," Morse said.