PHILADELPHIA — The  Mayor’s Office of Public Engagement (OPE), in partnership with the Philadelphia Commission on Human Relations (PCHR), the Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI), and the Office of Immigrant Affairs (OIA) will host the Black+Gold Leadership Boot Camp Series. The series will give the City’s appointed commissioners and key community leaders tools to help them strengthen understanding and interaction between Black and Asian communities through experiential learning.

“We believe that we can work towards unity and healing through ongoing, intentional, participatory engagement. The Black + Gold Leadership Boot Camp is a step towards this ambitious goal,” said Romana Lee-Akiyama, Executive Director, Office of Public Engagement. “We expect to have up to 50 participants in the program. The series will allow participants to share individual experiences, get deeper understandings of race, and develop a shared vision and plan of action.”

The series builds on each session from getting to know one another; to identifying barriers in racial relations; and finally developing ways that participants can take with them to strengthen cross-cultural interaction and understanding in their communities.  The events will start with a dinner and dialogue session on May 19, followed by a two-part dialogue session on June 23, and end with a celebration with a short dialogue event on July 21 at Shofuso Japanese Garden.

“The boot camp builds on work that was started in 2021 with the Mayor’s Commission on African American Males and the Mayor’s Commission on Asian Pacific American Affairs, and through the “Circles of Truths” event, “Safety & Solidarity within AAPI and Black Communities” – a virtual event that invited City appointed commissioners to participate in breakout discussions on race relations after watching a public fireside chat on the title topic,” said Randy Duque, Deputy Director, Community Relations Division, Philadelphia Commission on Human Relations.   

About the Boot Camp

Breaking Bread, Breaking Barriers (BBBB) series

The Breaking Bread, Breaking Barriers (BBBB) initiative was based on the concept in sociologist Elijah Anderson’s book, “The Cosmopolitan Canopy: Race and Civility in Everyday Life,” which presents how public spaces in Center City Philadelphia can ease intergroup tensions.

The PCHR was involved in the initial BBBB that brought different communities of various neighborhoods together, such as Iraqi refugees and neighbors of Mayfair; and convening Asian-owned business owners in West Philadelphia with Black community members.  In the second iteration of BBBB, diverse community groups living around select Philadelphia Parks were brought together with the additional goal of exploring how they can utilize the parks to come together across cultures. Some cultural groups and parks in this series included, Black, White, and Southeast Asian neighbors in FDR Park; and African immigrants and African-American community members in Bartram’s Garden.

This BBBB dinner aims to introduce participants to each other through a shared food experience. It will also cover the first step of the Dialogue on Race process.

Dialogue on Race 

Dialogue on Race is a program developed by the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) Community Relations Service (CRS) to help people organize and conduct their own productive conversations on race. The program is a four-step multi-session process that is designed to allow participants opportunities to share individual experiences and get a deeper understanding around race, and develop a shared vision and plan of action.

The Black + Gold Series is focused on building cross-racial conversations and dialogue to promote cooperation and mutual understanding. The Office of Public Engagement launched it in February 2022. OPE invites community leaders and organizations to submit their ideas for programs that can create dialog and unity across Asian and Black communities in specific neighborhoods, schools, community centers, or virtually. OPE will maintain a calendar of events and promote Black + Gold Series activities through their weekly newsletter and social media channels. Ideas and events can be submitted through this form.