On Monday evening of this week Central Dallas Ministries hosted our annual "A Night to Remember" celebration in the Morton H. Meyerson Symphony Center, the premier performance hall here in Dallas.
The audience of almost 2,000 seemed to thoroughly enjoy the music, inspiration and comedy provided by Gladys Knight, her band and her brother, the only remaining Pip! It was a rare and wonderful evening!
During the sponsors' reception prior to the concert, the Executive Director of one of our city's largest philanthropic foundations approached me to say, among other things, "Larry, I attend many events every year. And, I must tell you, this is not the kind of crowd I normally see at events like this here in Dallas." She referred to the amazing racial and ethnic diversity of those in attendance at both the reception and the performance that followed. She was thrilled to see an audience together for an artistic performance that mirrored the reality of our city as it is day-to-day.
Her observation stuck with me.
Why was our crowd so unique in a city like this?
Another community partner and friend called on Tuesday to congratulate us on the success of the event. He made a similar observation as my foundation friend and then asked me, "Larry, how in the world did you get that crowd of people to the event?" My answer was super simple: "Well, we invited them!" That, of course, is why our crowd was so unusual and why such groups don't gather more often.
We don't invite people different from ourselves very often in this city. We don't enjoy the richness and power of such experiences because we don't intend to have them happen!
Community connections across all of our well-known barriers is nothing if it is not an intentional art.
Church, theater, education, housing, fund-raising, name the community sector or event or venue--diversity comes intentionally or it usually doesn't arrive at all.
We aim to bring our community together. That is our intention.
So, count on it, we'll keep inviting everyone to the party!
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Larry James' Urban Daily
A repository of ideas, resources, commentary and opinions concerning the issues facing low-income residents of the inner cities of the United States and how mainstream America largely forgets or, worse, ignores the day-to-day realities of urban life for the so-called "poor." Written and edited by the President & CEO of CitySquare. Please visit CitySquare.
Today and throughout 2013, we need your support to continue our life-changing work in inner-city Dallas. Every day hundreds of our wonderful neighbors arrive at our doors seeking our assistance, offering their help and prepared to pursue a better life. Frankly, the folks we "serve" make essential contributions to the scope, nature and soul of the work we attempt. At CitySquare we honor and recognize the amazing value and richness of our low-income neighbors. During 2012, almost 55,000 different people received the benefit of our wide-ranging services designed to assist in the process of building better lives. We need your help TODAY as we continue to respond to the needs of our community. Even more, we need you to become our PARTNER in the work of compassion and community renewal--work that continues day after day at CitySquare.