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Meaningful discussions are needed

Next week, Suffolk residents get the opportunity to talk about serious topics at the Suffolk Center for Cultural Arts when The Virginia Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Commission comes to visit.

The visit will commemorate King’s visit to Suffolk back in 1963.

Suffolk saw King speak with conviction and passion, and they heard him speak about plans for a march on Washington. That march, now famous, happened exactly two months after the visit to Suffolk, and it was at that march that King delivered his famous “I Have a Dream” speech standing in front of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C.

While those that attended his original talk will enjoy getting to stroll down memory lane, the moderator Virginia Sen. Jennifer McClellan wants those that weren’t there to attend and learn.

The roundtable wants to analyze where the communities were when King came to visit and compare that to how far the communities have come.

This is an opportunity for some rousing discussion about the current state of our country and what steps we can do to start to make King’s dream a reality.

McClellan knows we are far from King’s dream, and I think most of us agree that she’s right. Some days, with the current presidential administration, it feels as if we are taking a lot of steps backwards.

The next step to making positive change is to have open and honest discussions about where we are as a country and realize what our shortcomings are. McClellan and her commission are giving us the chance to start the dialogue.

Dr. King’s legacy is one that gets remembered one day a year, when the other 364 days are filled with hate speech.

It’s a free program, and I hope to see more than just a handful of people attending. This event deserves to have the Suffolk Center overflowing with people who want to engage in meaningful conversations about how to be better Americans.

McClellan wants to do this all over the state and maybe extend these kinds of conversations to the rest of the country. I think it is something we need.

It’s time for everyone else to start a conversation to hopefully drown out the screaming from the extreme left and the extreme right.

The commission will have the roundtable discussion from 6 to 8 p.m. July 24 at the Suffolk Center for Cultural Arts, 110 W. Finney Ave.