Participants meet up at Fourth Ward Park for On The Table 2017.

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It’s time to “share, listen, act.” On Oct. 24, On The Table CLT will bring together thousands of Mecklenburg County residents to discuss the legacy of segregation and its ongoing impact in the Charlotte region.

Community members will gather in settings large and small — homes, restaurants, coffee shops, parks, workspaces, churches, neighborhood centers — to talk about how to make Mecklenburg County a better place to live and work for all residents. The most powerful concepts will be awarded microgrants by Foundation For The Carolinas to help turn ideas into action.

On The Table CLT, an initiative of the Foundation For The Carolinas and the Knight Foundation, seeks to foster civic engagement by connecting diverse groups of residents to collaborate on community-building issues that matter to them.

Survey results from last year’s inaugural On The Table CLT event on social capital revealed affordable housing, education, gentrification and segregation as the leading concerns of local residents.

Tackling policies of the past and their impact

Federal housing agencies used red lines on maps to demarcate areas deemed unsuitable for investment. Black neighborhoods were often the target of such practices. Click to see a timeline for more information about the history of segregation in Charlotte.

Several of the issues identified in the survey, such as affordable housing and gentrification, are the result of segregation policies of the past. “There is a thread that runs from the segregation policies of the first half of the 20th Century right smack into the affordable housing issues of today,”  said Charlotte historian Tom Hanchett, author of Sorting Out the New South City: Race, Class, and Urban Development in Charlotte, 1875-1975.

The federal government stacked the deck against people of color with mortgage policies and practices such as “redlining,” he said, which made it hard for African Americans to buy homes. Understanding what shaped the playing field may make us a little smarter today in dismantling the enduring effects, he said.

Don Thomas, Community Impact Director at Leading on Opportunity, sees On The Table CLT as an opportunity to move the community forward collectively. Difficult conversations about past policies must happen to create “sustained and transformative work” around the issues of economic mobility, he said.

“We fail to talk about the intentionality of oppression — policies (put in place) to intentionally segregate our community,” Thomas said.  “Just as intentional as it was for us to be separated, we need to be as vigilant in creating intentional pathways by which we can unite.

“If we can get rid of these implicit biases, we will garner a collective effort to move our community forward,” said Thomas.

Host a conversation

Participants meet up at First Ward Park for On The Table CLT 2017.

Sign up now to host an On The Table CLT conversation. Discussions can take place over breakfast, lunch, dinner, or any time in-between.

  • You can meet over coffee, brown-bag lunches in the park, or host an informal event at your home.  Or consider co-hosting your event with a local congregation or nonprofit.
  • Seek diverse voices for your gathering: Ask guests to bring a friend, or invite people from your network who don’t already know each other.
  • FFTC will provide a Host Kit, training and historical resources, such as a timeline of seminal moments in Charlotte’s development, to help you plan and lead a conversation.

Attend an On The Table gathering

From Davidson to Pineville, gatherings will take place in large and intimate venues. Check out this map to find a venue near you or search #onthetableclt or ‪#‎ottclt2018‬ on social media to find gatherings and other information. Here are some examples of gatherings open to the public:

  • YWCA Central Carolinas, 3420 Park Road, 9–10:30 a.m. More info
  • Mecklenburg County and the Clanton Park Neighborhood collaboration: Dorothy Waddy Pavilion at Clanton Park, 3132 Manchester Drive, 6-8 p.m.
  • The League of Women Voters of Charlotte-Mecklenburg, 6:30-8:00 p.m., 1817 Central Ave. in room 210.

Also, join the conversation on social media using #onthetableclt or #‎ottclt2018.

Last year’s On The Table event

Foundation For The Carolinas is one of 10 community foundations across the U.S. participating in On the Table following a successful pilot funded by Knight Foundation in 2017 when more than 5,000 people came together to discuss how to collaboratively build and maintain a more connected, inclusive and opportunity-rich community. Survey results and the impact report can be viewed at under “Resources.”

On the Table replicates an annual civic engagement initiative of the same name developed by the Chicago Community Trust in 2014

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