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Published: Wednesday, 4/2/2014 - Updated: 2 years ago


Race forum, workshop to tackle effects of poverty


■ WHAT: Community forum on poverty; open to the public

■ WHEN: 7 p.m. Thursday
■ WHERE: Central Catholic High School, Sullivan Center; parking is free
■ SPEAKER: Ruby Payne, author
■ SPONSORS: Advocates for Basic Legal Equality Inc., Toledo Chapter of the Association of U.S. Catholic Priests, Toledo Community Coalition, and The Blade
Ruby Payne Ruby Payne

Organizers of Toledo’s next community-sponsored forum on racism, which focuses on poverty, said they are hopeful the event will continue to advance understanding of the problem in the city.

“The poverty forums are really significant, especially for people in the Toledo area, as we are facing a dramatic increase in poverty,” said Joe Tafelski, executive director of Advocates for Basic Legal Equality Inc., one of the sponsors of the “Changing Minds and Changing Lives: Combating Racism” speaker series.

Also sponsoring the event Thursday are the Toledo Chapter of the Association of U.S. Catholic Priests, the Toledo Community Coalition, and The Blade. Stories and commentary about the events can be found at toledoblade.com/​toledoforums.

“We need to start addressing poverty if we are going to be a vibrant community,” Mr. Tafelski said. “Hopefully the forum will bring attention to the problem and will also point out people’s stereotypes and misunderstandings about the problems of poverty. We are hoping it will be educational and inspire people to take action. ... We need to address the issue because it is growing, it’s not getting better.”

Ruby Payne, co-author of Bridges Out of Poverty, who travels the country speaking about poverty, will be the keynote speaker for the next installment of the series at 7 p.m. Thursday in Central Catholic High School’s Sullivan Center. The forum is open to the public.

Ms. Payne will run two workshops Thursday, at 8:30 a.m. and 10 a.m., at the United Way of Greater Toledo downtown before her speech at Central Catholic. The first forum is designed for business and political leaders. Educators, social workers, and people who operate social agencies are invited to the 10 a.m. workshop.

The Rev. Thomas Landgraff of the association of U.S. Catholic Priests said the Catholic Church has a long tradition of working to alleviate poverty and racism.

“This is a good chance to not only make people aware of poverty and what they can do about it, but also how to apply their abilities to help people who are down and out,” Father Landgraff said.

He said the forums have spawned local discussion groups that tackle poverty issues.

The Rev. Robert A. Culp, pastor of the First Church of God in the Old West End and co-chairman of the Toledo Community Coalition, said poverty and racism go hand-in-hand “like twins.” He lauded Ms. Payne’s work to help people understand that connection.

“Ruby Payne is, in my view, a truly insightful person who can make us more aware than we have ever been on poverty’s effect on a person,” Mr. Culp said. “She has helped me already and I have had my own experience with poverty. Just reading her book has helped me to grasp the culture of poverty, and unless leaders understand the culture of poverty, we will never be able to help people be released from it.”

Contact Ignazio Messina at: imessina@theblade.com or 419-724-6171 or on Twitter @IgnazioMessina.

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