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Via Generocity: In culminating session, forum asks ‘Where do we go from here?

Thursday, November 5, 2020

By Bobbi I. Booker for Generocity

ECS Forum PanelThe weeklong Forum on Justice & Opportunity convened by Episcopal Community Services concluded with back-to-back panel discussions for participants to share their next steps for collective action.

NBC10‘s Vai Sikahema moderated the “Where Do We Go from Here?” session featuring ECS’s David E. Griffith; Joe Pyle, president of The Scattergood Foundation, and Sidney R. Hargro, president of Philanthropy Network Greater Philadelphia.

Each speaker delved into the tenets of their faith and shared poignant perspectives in the immediate aftermath of the death of Walter Wallace Jr., a 27-year-old man fatally shot by police last week in West Philadelphia. Wallace’s killing sparked protests, much like the unrest that followed the similar deaths of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor earlier this year.

Griffith opened the session addressing the barriers for people affected by systemic racism and how to remove misconceptions about the culture of poverty.

“We must actively and collectively invest in on the ground transformational programs that meet our neighbors where they are, to help them escape poverty permanently,” Griffith offered. “We must face the uncomfortable truth that systematic racism is at the root cause of the generations of toxic stress and trauma, leading to the reactive and violent eruptions in our center cities.”

“This week,” he added, “we have experienced the manifestation of that agony of our racist history and the failures of our behavioral health system. Now, more than ever is a time to act.”

Pyle reflected on the next steps leaders should take for collective action that can provide racial equity during the economic recovery and beyond.

“If we cannot, in this moment, radically think about how we use our behavioral health system, police force, and healthcare system to better serve individuals like Walter Wallace, I think ten years from now, it will be bleak here in this city,” Pyle said.