In October 1995, seven local residents came together to discuss racial relations in the Greater Williamsburg area. They were drawn together by several volatile events that were occurring nationally which were leading to increased polarization based on race. By March 1996, All Together, Inc. maintained a mailing list of over 100 names. A steering group of 38 members was appointed to guide the further development of the organization. Jack Charlton was elected chairman and a mission statement and goals were developed and adopted by the steering group.
In 1996, several programs to involve the community in discussions of racial issues were implemented. The first in a series of Community Forums on Race, Religion and Responsibility was held in September, with over 100 people attending. Study circles were introduced in December, brining together small groups of diverse people to meet several times to grapple with discussion about racial issues in an open, candid and heart-felt way.
Since our inception in 1995, we have expanded our programming to include the following:
- The film Color of Fear, with several hundred participants involved in the viewing and discussion.
- Three hundred people participating in study circles through church pairings and community recruitment.
- Community Forums on education, leadership, criminal justice and economics carrying out our outreach efforts.
- Sponsored three Community Hymn Sings with participation from a diverse number of congregations in the community.
- Co-sponsored the Community Leadership Conference, which attracted over 200 participants to a day of learning and idea sharing.
- Two annual Film Festivals were facilitated, bringing together persons from diverse backgrounds to view and comment on films dealing with racial or related issues.
- Annual Unity Award was implemented to recognize community citizens who have shown exceptional leadership in bringing the community together.
- Increasing our mailing list to approximately 600 community residents.