SPRINGFIELD, Ohio (WDTN) – After CultureFest was cancelled in Downtown Springfield because of COVID-19, Springfield government officials, organization leaders, educators and students formed a virtual book group called CultureRead to find ways to use what they read to end racism the community.

Thursday night, more than 50 people of different ages and backgrounds started the conversation about their experiences with racism and what’s being done to solve those issues in Springfield.

“There’s so much more that can happen and so much more change we know needs to happen in order for our community to be approaching and getting rid of systemic racism,” organizer of CultureRead with the City of Springfield Nancy Flinchbaugh said.

Some of their topics of discussion included what is already being done in the community to make progress toward antiracism in government, institutions and personal lives.

The Springfield Foundation is working with local nonprofits to create more equity and inclusion by working with them write diversity statements.

Wittenberg University started required courses on diversity and the intersection of racial marginalization in the U.S.

The city of Springfield is looking at redevelopment of the city’s south side. Including by changing zoning laws and code. They’re also exploring the potential for small businesses to open in these neighborhoods.

“Some of our foundations are steep in racial injustice, and I’m proud that we as a community are looking at dismantling that and reimagining what our city could look like,” Springfield retired nurse Winkie Mitchell said.

The participants said the virtual discussion was just the start, they’re encouraging everyone who attended to continue these conversations with friends, families and strangers.

“They might not realize it, but that’s what it really takes to change people’s minds and attitudes and eventually one day change society.” City of Springfield Planning and Zoning administrator Steve Thompson said.

For more information about CultureRead and CultureFest, click here.