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2023 Racial Equity Summit Sparks Ideas and Builds Momentum for Change

Attendees kick off the Summit at the America’s Center Convention Complex. Photo courtesy of Walter Siewert.

The 2023 St. Louis Racial Equity Summit brought together more than 750 advocates, activists, and allies committed to addressing systemic inequities from education to housing to healthcare and beyond. For three days, attendees explored the theme of “Together We Rise: The Power of Community,” featuring thought-provoking presentations and conversations focused on the signature priorities of the Ferguson Commission’s report, i.e., youth at the center, opportunity to thrive, and justice for all.

Founded in 2019 and held bi-annually, the Summit serves as a platform to elevate, collaborate, and activate the people, practices, and resources necessary to achieve racial equity. Held November 9-11, this year’s summit expanded its offerings in a larger location at the America’s Center Convention Complex and attracted advocates from across the country.

Gary Parker, director of the Clark-Fox Policy Institute and one of the founding conference organizers, underscored the significance of the Summit, stating, “The Summit is not just a conference. It’s strengthening a sense of community and amplifying the movement to end systemic racism. Some of the most creative and innovative work advancing racial justice is happening here in St. Louis. It is beyond inspiring to see that work shared with others seeking structural solutions to racism.”

A highlight was the keynote speech delivered by renowned poetess Nikki Giovanni. Giovanni focused on why words are humans’ most important invention. She asked participants to look at the evolution and power of how we speak with and at each other, urging that language is the most important element in achieving racial equity and racial justice.

The final day of the conference put Youth at the Center. Precious Barry, youth activist and freshman at Washington University in St. Louis, led a student panel that explored how we can pass the torch to youth advocates to push for positive change. Thought-provoking sessions on the power of literacy in achieving racial equity and how we can encourage racial equity inside school walls rounded out the day.

Photos courtesy of Forward through Ferguson.

This year’s conference planning committee included St. Louis Community Foundation, University of Missouri-St. Louis, Forward through Ferguson, Freedom Community Center, Gladiator Consulting, Invest STL, Key Strategic Group, A Red Circle, St. Louis Regional Health Commission, United Way of Greater St. Louis, and the Clark-Fox Policy Institute.