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Community Leaders Share Pressing Concerns For Civil Discussion, Listening

Shelley Kofler
Texas Public Radio
(From top left clockwise) San Antonio City Councilwoman Shirley Gonzales; Sarwat Husain, President CAIR-SA; President Danny Anderson, Trinity University; Rev. Otis Mitchell, Mt. Zion Baptist Church

Texas Public Radio and the San Antonio Area Foundation on Wednesday launched the “Dare to Listen” project aimed at tackling divisive topics by listening to people we don’t necessarily agree with, and having respectful debate.

A group of influential political, religious and community leaders joined “Dare to Listen” organizers in calling for more civil discussion on a wide variety of subjects.  They shared their ideas with TPR.

The Rev. Otis Mitchell, pastor of Mount Zion Baptist Church in San Antonio, said we need to have some tough discussions on race and how it divides our communities.

San Antonio City Councilwoman Shirley Gonzales says we need to listen to any public concerns about police-community relations.

Trinity University President Danny Anderson is planning for conversations about violence and race with some 2,300 students who will be on campus for classes this fall. 

Father Cris Janson from San Antonio’s Holy Rosary Church says parishioners don’t always agree on social issues like gay marriage and abortion, but they might gain some insight by listening to different points of view.

Sarwat Husain is President of the Council on American-Islamic Relations in San Antonio.  She says there are some deep misunderstandings about her Muslim community.  She believes just getting to know each other, just listening to your neighbors, is a good way to find common ground.

Shelley Kofler is Texas Public Radio’s news director. She joined the San Antonio station in December 2014 and leads a growing staff that produces two weekly programs; a daily talk show, news features, reports and online content. Prior to TPR, Shelley served as the managing editor and news director at KERA in Dallas-Fort Worth, and the Austin bureau chief and legislative reporter for North Texas ABC affiliate WFAA-TV.