~~ September 2023 Newsletter ~~

A Message From Our CEO

The Talking Piece

There is so much talking but are we really saying anything? If you are like me, you feel bombarded by the constant deluge of language - from podcasts and social media to online news. We are actively listening, and after more than two years of distancing, we have been coming together to TALK. While we are enthusiastic about engaging, we have re-entered a society where the rules of engagement are not necessarily...uh ...engaging. We are word weary, struggling over how to say what we mean in our politically correct and incorrect world.

But there is hope. Coming Together Virginia provides resources and a supportive environment for all who wish to build relationships across many divides and we rely on language to do that. Our approach hinges upon facilitated conversation. Our team of facilitators are word watchers, modeling language for healing. We are facilitating the future through constructive dialogue.  

CT-VA has a talent for TALK. We even use talking pieces to ensure all voices are valued and heard. In fact, in September 2021, our organization was chosen by Governor Northam’s selection committee to contribute to the new state time capsule. We suggested railroad spikes as talking pieces representing endurance, strength and building together. The spikes were a hit and earned us a place in Virginia history and so can you.

We hope our discussions, no matter how clumsy and uncomfortable, will be deemed courageous and purposeful 100 years from now. Through dedicated volunteer engagement, we offer monthly events providing a platform for talk that leads to action and transformation. We invite you to join us as a table participant or consider being a CT-VA facilitator. Get trained by our facilitator trainers and make a difference in your community. Let’s talk!  

For more info: Become a CT-VA Facilitator

Sign up here to be a Volunteer! https://www.comingtogethervirginia.org/volunteer-form 

 To learn more about how our language is changing, take this New York Times opinion quiz You Can't Say That! (Or Can You?) See you at the table!




Dinner & Conversation



*Linked Descendants

Tuesday, September 19, 2023

6:00 - 8:30 pm

Ginter Park Presbyterian Church

Fellowship Hall

3601 Seminary Avenue, Richmond VA

We are anticipating a great evening of sharing with the MINES-TILLMAN-MORRIS Family who recently celebrated their union across the racial divide this past June. We were and are privileged to facilitate healing circles making it possible to have important conversations addressing generational and historical trauma. 


In March, we partnered with the American Civil War Museum on another linked descendants program featuring Viola Baskerville and Allison Thomas of the linked BRAXTON FAMILY. That night, African American Historical and Genealogical Society members spoke about the importance of white families sharing family documents that might help black families find their roots. This event will be supportive to those families and organizations working together to discover our blended past.

We are reserving seats at our table

for you!

Look for your invitation to register in your email inbox in the next day or two!

This is a potluck event where we will provide some basics as the meal foundation. Please bring a nourishing side dish to share and donations of $20 per person are appreciated to help cover costs. No one will be turned away, so please come regardless of whether you can bring a dish or make a donation.

FYI - Here are media links on the Mines-Tillman-Morris Family Reunion you may find interesting:

Divided by Slavery, Reunited in Reconciliation / RTD July 16, 2023            

Common Ground: Descendants of the enslaved and their enslavers / July 16, 2023


*"Linked Descendants are people connected to one another through slavery and its legacies, and are people related through ownership, kinship, or violence. Linked descendants want to know the truth about their ancestors, discover their connections, maybe even heal a bit of the wounded past." – Coming to the Table  website, Linked Descendants Working Group page.


(4th Monday of the month)

via Zoom

Monday, September 25th 

6:30 - 8:00 pm ET

Armageddon Time 

Some may label this a "white guilt" film and this emboldens the film's message and clearly lays out what Director James Gray is trying to do. The film deals with themes of inequality (mainly racial inequality) as well as morality and the generational pursuit of the so-called "American Dream". It is a very matter-of-fact look at a 12 year old white boy's world in the 1980's as he navigates his life, dreams, school, family and his friendship with a black boy.

Join us for a lightly facilitated conversation about this movie on 9/25 after watching it in the comfort of your home or with friends. The movie is available for streaming for subscribers of Prime Video or Peacock Premium, as well as for rent from Apple TV, Amazon, Google Play and Vudu.

Robin Allman

Movie Circle Convener

We would love to have an African American co-convener join us for our Movie Circle. Email Robin if you are interested in exploring this volunteer role.


Reading For Change


(4th Thursday of the month)

Via Zoom

Thursday, September 28th

6:30 - 8:00 pm ET

Stephanie E. Jones-Rogers challenges the idea that white women were passive bystanders to the slave economy in the US, instead demonstrating their active participation in its structures of brutality and exploitation. Compellingly written and centering the testimonies of formerly enslaved people, this award-winning book is an important contribution to both historiography and contemporary politics as it adds to an ongoing conversation about the scope of women


Education For Action


(3rd Thursdays)

In-Person Potluck Dinner & Conversation


Please e-mail Cheryl Goode with any questions.



We Need You! 

Would you like to join our CT-VA Facilitators Circle?  Are you ready to explore a more active role in dialogue aimed at increasing inclusion, justice, and equity in our communities? 

We have a well-organized training program to help you develop your comfort and confidence to do so. You will work with experienced trainers and facilitators who have moved from participants to dialogue guides. With them, you will help hold the space for others to share their experiences with race. 

On the 2nd Thursday of most months, our facilitators gather on Zoom (7-8:30 pm) to participate in a facilitator training and to prepare for the upcoming 3rd Tuesday Family Gathering. During the program year, two intensive trainings (4 hours each) are offered where you work with each other to deepen your knowledge about racial dialogue, increase your self-awareness. and refine your skills. 

This month at our monthly facilitator training on Thursday, Sept. 14th 7-8:30 pm on Zoom, we will review our new certification program, discuss Levels 1 & 2 requirements, and prepare for our 3rd Tuesday IN-PERSON Gathering on Expanding Families across Racial Lines (September 19th, 6-8:30 pm). Our of two first intensive IN-PERSON training workshop for Level 1 facilitators is Saturday, Sept. 16th, 1-5 pm

If you are interested in learning more, and for the Zoom info for this Thursday, please email Dr. Bonnie Dowdy, Coordinator of Facilitation and Training.


with author Margaret Edds

Pine Camp Arts and Community Center

Friday, September 15th

11:00am - 1:00pm

Join us for an informative, enlightening discussion. Author, Margaret Edds will be joined by Cynthia Hudson, former chair of the Commission to Examine Racial Inequity in Virginia Law under Ralph Northam, in a discussion moderated by CT-VA's Tom Crabbs. Come sip some tea, discuss the book, and engage in thought-provoking conversation. Complimentary light fare will be offered as well.

The event is free and donations are welcome and gratefully received here.



(RVA): Local Event

(NAT): CTTT - National Event

See info on Facilitator Training opportunities on 9/14 & 9/16 in the left column

Friday, Sept 15

11:00 am - 1:00 pm

Book Talk & Tea


Pine Camp CC



Saturday, Sept 16

4:00 - 5:00 pm ET

CTTT Guided Meditation

via ZOOM

Contact CT-VA's own Hayat  

if you have questions.


Tuesday, Sept 19

6:00 - 8:30 pm ET

3rd Tuesday Dinner & Conversation


Contact  Hayat  

for more info.


Monday, Sept 25

6:30 - 8:00 pm ET

Movie Circle

via ZOOM

Contact Robin to be added to mailing list.


Thursday, Sept 28

6:30 - 8:00 pm ET

Reading for Change

Book Circle

via ZOOM

Contact Doug to be added to mailing list.




Slavery To Hope

Thursday, Sept 28

4:00 pm ET


In an evening of engaging music and conversation, two descendants of a Confederate enslaver, one black and one white, tell their story through their respective lenses. They reveal their life experience and historical past to becoming "present day" family.

As two recently embraced cousins, Wallis Raemer and Reggie Harris relate their experience of discovering the other’s deeply held feelings, pain, and hope on their journey of reclaiming history.

The program will be presented on Zoom.

Register to receive the Zoom link.





Guided Meditation


September 16th  

4:00-5:00 pm ET

On Zoom

Coming to the Table (our national parent organization) offers regularly scheduled Zoom meetings focused on guided meditation as a tool for healing wounds related to race. This session is for anyone who is interested in learning to meditate or is already practicing meditation. 

Soft deadline to RSVP is September 13th.

Click here

to RSVP & register.

Donate While You Shop

Are you a frequent Kroger shopper? Do you have a Kroger Card or a Kroger Digital Account? If so, please consider linking your account to Coming Together Virginia for Kroger Community Rewards. Every time you shop in-person or online and use your Kroger Card or associated phone number Kroger will donate a percentage to Coming Together Virginia based on your purchase. There is NO charge to you and linking your account is super easy. Learn more about the Community Rewards Program and how to link your Kroger account by clicking below.


Our Mission

To Open Hearts

and Minds

through shared learning and bold


To Connect People

across the racial divide

To Teach Dialogue Processes

for healing conversations on difficult racial experiences

To Promote Action

to dismantle the

legacy of enslavement

To Call Forth Just and Equitable Communities

in Virginia and beyond

Thank you for your continued support of

Coming Together Virginia.




We are experiencing lots of growth and change and there are some positions we need to fill!

Help us help

the world!


Event Coordinator

We are looking for a part-time (20 hours a week), paid Event Coordinator to help organize and ensure all of our numerous events are implemented without a hitch.




Love to take pictures? Are you a regular attendee at many of our events? If your answer is yes to both please consider being a volunteer photographer at an event. No experience is necessary. Just point and shoot. The time commitment is approximately 3 to 5 hours per month.

Contact us to express interest or learn more!


Afrikana Film Festival is a 4-day event (September 14th - 17th) full of dynamic cinema, live performances, panel discussions, meet & greets, happy hours, workshops, and parties at some of Richmond's most impressive art spaces.

With submissions from over 23 countries and filmmakers representing the fullness of the African diaspora, Afrikana is excited to bring lovers of film and Black culture back together after two long years!



There is much work to be done to create the Virginia we want to see.

So, roll up your sleeves and let's get busy!

JUSTICE FORWARD VIRGINIA is doing amazing work in the criminal justice reform space. We were so honored to have had the Executive Director Rob Poggenklass speak at our event in July. The new VA legislative session is quickly approaching (Jan 10, 2024). Now is the time to get informed and organized!


Combining archival footage with testimony from activists and scholars, director Ava DuVernay's film, 13th, is an examination of the U.S. prison system that looks at how the country's history of racial inequality drives the high rate of incarceration in America.

People's Tribunal On Virginia's Prisons, Jails and Detention Centers

October 7, 2023, 10 AM - 4 PM

Greater Richmond Convention Center

Sponsored By: The Virginia Prison Justice Network and the Virginia Defenders For Freedom, Justice and Equality

Testimony about injustices in the state’s prisons, jails, and immigrant detention centers will be presented by prisoners, formerly incarcerated individuals, family members, and advocates. The testimony will be heard by a panel of judges from the legal profession, academia, the religious community, and more.

Bryan Stevenson, acclaimed public interest lawyer, founder and executive director of the Equal Justice Initiative delivers the 2016 Anne and Loren Kieve Distinguished Speaker Lecture on race and the criminal justice system.

Race Realities

Two 2024 Retreats

Take part in an unforgettable retreat in the breathtaking coastal town of Cahuita, Costa Rica at The Goddess Garden, an oasis of peace and nature on the Caribbean ocean. Facilitated and founded by black socially conscious Education and Mental Health professionals, this is for persons who are activists, educators, organizers, strategists or simply passionate about a healthy lifestyle.

This retreat offers a safe space for spiritual fortification for persons from all backgrounds as we face a changing world.


Let Us Never Forget Gus Newport!

A memorial service celebrating the legacy of Eugene Norman Newport will be held on September 23rd in Oakland, CA. Lovingly known as Gus Newport, friends and family will share stories and inspirations from experiences with this activist and movement legend. CT-VA was honored to work with Gus and his organization on joint projects. He was a soldier for global justice, and we are eternally grateful.


Jonathan Davis, Marketing and Communications Manager

Coming Together Virginia
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