“The Tyler Together Race Relations Forum will foster understanding among the various ethnic groups and encourage diversity by providing venues for open and frank discussions relating to racial equality.”
A Brief History
The Tyler Together Race Relations Forum grew out of the Tyler Together strategic planning project, a community-wide effort initiated in 1991. The Tyler Together Race Relations Task Force was one of seven task forces formed under the project’s auspices to address a variety of community issues.
The task force’s first full year, 1992, was a busy one, highlighted by a series of town hall meetings that allowed people to express their concerns about race relations in the Tyler area. A series of local controversies culminated in a statewide NAACP rally in Tyler — the same day that the Ku Klux Klan held a demonstration in the city. The task force’s work offered people an opportunity to air out these issues and others, and drew attention both in the Tyler area and beyond.
Once the initial hue and cry died down, the task force continued to operate, but with dwindling attendance. Still, people continued to come to the meetings and engage in some lively discussion. By around 1996, it was determined that such discussion — chiefly of the roundtable variety — had become the task force’s strong point, so the group’s name was changed to the Tyler Together Race Relations Forum.
For a short period several years later, the forum added three racial reconciliation workshops to its project list. These were facilitated by members of the Baha’i Faith, a religion that emphasizes the oneness of humanity.
In more recent years, it became evident that the forum needed to be reorganized with a more structured format, without losing the opportunity for people to share ideas and concerns informally. Following a 13-month hiatus, the forum resumed meeting early in 2006. The Tapestry Music Festival, a musical presentation featuring members of various races and cultures, was the first big event put on by the forum following this hiatus. It was presented in June 2006 at Bergfeld Park and drew positive response.Another such event was held in 2007 as part of the Festival on the Square.
The forum also scheduled a series of “movie days,” featuring screenings and discussions of films relevant to our mission. Another project was a discussion with the Tyler ISD, aimed at furthering multicultural understanding within the school district. This largely entailed a cooperative effort on a reconciliation project known as “Rachel’s Challenge.” This is a national endeavor that grew out of the Columbine High School shootings in Colorado. It received good response from students and staff in the school district.
Beginning with the 2012 event, the forum has taken on the task of organizing the community’s annual Martin Luther King Jr. Day activity. This effort began in the late 1980s and has grown into a significant observance that draws about 900 people each year. This success has continued under the forum’s leadership. Starting in January 2014, the forum will take on another community-wide project, hosting monthly cultural diversity gatherings at Tyler Public Library. The group continues on other projects and welcomes any suggestions.
In February 2007, the race relations forum adopted the following mission statement:
“The Tyler Together Race Relations Forum is an organization whose goal is to promote tolerance and understanding among the various ethnic groups within our community in order to bring about more racial equality. The scope will cover but not be limited to public schools, workplaces, minority-owned businesses. It will involve initiation of, or support of, programs that promote diversity and tolerance as well as provide a venue for open and frank discussions relating to racial equality.”
The Tyler Together Race Relations Forum meets monthly. The public is welcome to attend. You can go to https://tylertogether.org to learn more, or contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org