Local race relations strained after Baltimore unrest
The tensions in Baltimore are also affecting race relations in the Local 6 area. A group has been working for months to promote unity, but the riots, the violence, and the strained relationship between police and protestors there could be a setback for progress here.
The visuals from Monday night in Baltimore are hard to ignore. “That’s certainly not what we want in Paducah. That’s certainly not the way in which things should be taking place now,” Raynarldo Henderson said. He’s the head pastor at Washington Street Baptist Church.
Henderson and Floyd Donley are members of a local race unity group. They said the violence can not be excused, but it can be explained.
“Right now, black America is frustrated. When you’re frustrated, it manifests itself in ways that we see in Baltimore,” Henderson said.
Donley said he’s seen some of those same frustrations in Paducah, but the group’s goal is to make sure a scene similar to Baltimore doesn’t happen here.
“I think we need to work together to try to solve people’s frustration prior to them becoming so frustrated that they do something radical,” Donley said.
They’re planning group sessions designed to help local leaders and the community talk through tough topics. “Everybody should have the right to express their concern, but they should also listen to the people of the other persuasion, whatever it may be,” Donley said.
The idea is to keep the conversation going, respectfully, to avoid an explosive race problem in Paducah. “I don’t think it’s gonna’ hinder us from moving forward in any way,” Henderson said.
The race unity group was also behind bringing the documentary Racial Taboo to Paducah. Now, there are six continuing conversation sessions scheduled. The first one will be at 6 p.m. Thursday at Washington Street Baptist Church. The group is also planning an all-day workshop scheduled for May 9 at the Paducah Recreation Center. To sign up, call 270-415-0664.