Community Voices

Honest Conversations

A few months ago, I had the great honor of attending Chattanooga Insight, a Chattanooga Area Chamber of Commerce sponsored event.  Over two days, we listened to some of Chattanooga’s top leaders and professionals talk about the past, present, and future of Chattanooga and also went on an amazing tour around the city which highlighted many of the recent transformations.


For myself, the highlight of the program was listening to Chattanooga History Center Executive Director Dr. Daryl Black.  For one hour he dazzled the attendees of the program with an oral history of Chattanooga, starting with the early American Indians who first lived on this land, continuing on through the civil war, and ending with the current state of Chattanooga.  For someone brand new to this city, it was a great history lesson that helped me understand the place I now called home.  If you ever have the chance to listen to Dr. Daryl Black speak, I highly recommend that you check it out.


However, what has remained with me most from Dr. Black’s speech was not a specific historical event that he shared during his speech but instead the call to action in his parting words.  To briefly summarize, Dr. Black talked about how Chattanooga needs to “start having the difficult discussions” about race and for all Chattanoogans to fully understand just how important race has been in shaping Chattanooga’s history as our city grows and changes in the 21st century.

Race is always hard to talk about. But will any problems be solved if we brush them under the rug?  It didn’t work in the past and as they say, history tends to repeat itself.  To better ensure the success of kids, tweens, and teens living in our city, I say we begin to have these difficult decisions.  As I said in my previous blog, the key to our city’s continued success and growth is keeping the youth population living, working, and learning in Chattanooga.  The success of our city won’t be measured solely by how many new technologies are made with our gig fiber network or how much money is brought to the community, but also by how the community grows, learns, and connects with each other.  Having open, honest, and forward thinking conversations about race will allow our community to grow.  It will give the youth growing up in our community one more thing to be proud of when they say, “Yup, I’m from Chattanooga.”

“To better ensure the success of kids, tweens, and teens living in our city, I say we begin to have these difficult decisions.”