The small groups open into a larger group discussion in which it is noted that most people do not know what the covenant with black America entails. The floor opens to John, a blogger, who states that is what tonight is about, bringing the covenant to a national audience, noting this is a benchmark event, unique to African American culture because of their struggle to vote, a right under utilized by many African Americans.
Another man expresses his concern that this evening will become too centered on only one segment of American society. This is addressed by the fact that our concerns as a nation are the same regardless of color and the concerns of black America will not be eclipsed, but instead included in the covenant.
This topic brings up the question of whether a covenant is necessary by a man who is worried about a top down approach that is not flexible and does not account for differences in a variety of communities. He is assured the covenant is a bottom down, locally focused effort and tonight’s forum is meant to ask the candidates what they will do at the federal level to assist in the cause.
David is concerned about the digital divide and wants to find the common ground among Americans, regardless of race. He worries about the focus of measuring success based on money rather than values and a strong community.
Brad from ACC wonders why this is a black covenant rather than a human convenent since everyone goes through the issues addressed by the document. John, an African American blogger, responds that this allows the community to take control and responsibility for their future and to help educate the black community, which has fed into believing things about themselves that have been harmful over the years.
Anne Stafford agrees, saying it is about building communities in which people can grow to understand each other, learning about the barriers each of us faces. She worries about Austin becoming more segregated rather than less, with neighborhoods becoming homogeneous enclaves. She does not want her grandchildren to grow up in a world in which everyone looks like they do. She wants them to understand the richness of cultures that make up their own community. She hopes the covenant will give us a platform for some real discussion.
The group discussion does not address any of the topics of the evening, but is instructive about the opposition and misunderstanding that may be faced as black Americans embark on this historic journey, but also the possibility for dialogue on the issue.