The city of Lewisville, at the direction of Mayor Rudy Durham, is creating an avenue for change.
The city will host a seven-part series called Mayor’s Commission – Listen Learn Lead, an effort to hear from the African American community about the concerns and the challenges they face. The goal is to build a stronger community through honest dialogue.
This comes after the May 25 killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis, Minnesota by police officer Derek Chauvin.
"Like so many other people, I am repeatedly shocked when we witness acts of extreme violence based on race,” Durham said. “Being shocked is not enough. This commission gives us a chance as City leaders to listen to members of the African American community to better understand their perspective and to learn from their experiences. One of Lewisville’s greatest strengths is our cultural diversity, but we have work to do if we want it to remain a strength. I am excited to have this opportunity."
The hope is that at the conclusion of the series, recommendations will be made and presented to the city management and the City Council for future action.
“The name reflects the need for city officials to listen to under-represented communities and the need for those residents to be heard,” the city said in a memo. “It also mirrors the model of George Washington that people should first listen and learn before they try to lead.”
The sessions will begin in early July and run to the end of August. Each session will last approximately two hours.
Sessions 1 and 2 will be devoted to listening. Session 1 will focus on the experiences black men and women face in the United States and in Lewisville. Session 2 will focus on the resources that are lacking in Lewisville.
Sessions 3, 4 and 5 will be about learning. Session 3 will address the city’s hiring, training and discipline practices. Session 4 will focus on the Lewisville Police Department’s training and protocols. Session 5 will touch on the city’s communication and outreach efforts.
Sessions 6 and 7 will be about leading. Session 6 will review the findings from the previous input and identify action steps. Session 7 will finalize action step recommendations.
Officials said the “learn” topics could change based on participant requests.
Among the contributors are city volunteers, local business owners, administrators in Lewisville ISD and other Lewisville residents.
In addition, there will be six “listeners” each week consisting of city management officials – Durham, City Manager Donna Barron, Assistant City Manager Melinda Galler, Police Chief Kevin Deaver, Human Resources Director Matt Grebliunas and Community Relations Director James Kunke, who will serve as the facilitator.
City Council members have been invited to attend sessions on a rotating basis with no more than one member at each session.
The city’s website, cityoflewisville.com, will include a way for the public to monitor the group’s progress.