ALBANY, GA (WALB) - A group of Albany residents are working to build a brighter future for African Americans in the Good Life City.
On Tuesday night they gathered for 'The State of Black Albany' at the Civil Rights Institute.
"These children need love. If you come up in the community and you see the same people doing the same thing every day you adapt. They rob, they steal things because they don't know how," said one Albany woman who was raised in Albany and is now working for a healthcare institution.
Problems for blacks living in Albany and solutions were at the center of discussion at the event.
Sherrell Byrd of the Albany Business League organized the night.
"Tonight we are taking the bottom up approach," explained Byrd. "We want to hear from the citizens and hear what they think will make Albany a better community in the hopes that they will rally around those solutions and we can really see some movement towards change here."
The night started with smiles, handshakes and getting to know everyone, before quickly turning to discussions about the roadblocks in Albany.
Byrd and the 9 to 5 Georgia Organization have been meeting with churches and different groups of people to look at what Albany is like now and what people want it to look like in the future.
"There's a lot of conversations about there being a lot of division in our community, racial tension and the economics are obviously not great here as well," said Byrd.
While discussions of problems had people listening shaking their heads, talk about the future gave them new life.
"I don't think everybody knows all of the resources that are available," said one Albany pastor. He suggested people start a Facebook group to make people more aware of the resources.
While some people said the problems were with the dropout rate and the school system, one man said it starts at home and how the kids are being taught.
"I think our school system is doing a good job honestly," said the resident. He said he mentors students at Robert Harvey. "The biggest thing they got is not that they're dumb, but they've never been taught to listen."
Byrd and others said they plan to continue the conversations and take physical steps towards making Albany's future brighter.
"People are ready to see change in our community. They're not just ready to talk about it, but they're actually ready to come out and do something about it," said Byrd.
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