PORTLAND, Maine (NEWS CENTER) -- Around 200 people gathered at Portland’s Reiche School for an event on racial inclusiveness hosted by Portland's City Democratic Committee.
The panel included community leaders talking about their experiences with racism and how Maine could become more welcoming.
The discussion had been planned months before Governor LePage's recent comments about minority drug dealers coming into the state and it wasn't focused on him.
Instead, it centered on how panelists had experienced racism and answering questions from the crowd about racial privilege.
The panelists and the people who called them together say while it may not be a comfortable conversation, it’s an honest one they think will improve society for all.
"There are people, good intentioned people, who would like to have an open, honest. in-depth, uncomfortable conversation about race and privilege,” said Rev. Kenneth Lewis, one of the speakers and pastor of the Green Memorial AME Zion Church in Portland.
The focus of the discussion and question and answer session stayed broad despite recent comments about race made by Governor LePage.
The event was planned before the events of the past week and a half unfolded and some in the audience and panelists were glad it stayed on script.
“I've got to move on,” said Tim Wilson who attended the forum.
Wilson added he hopes the young people in the audience will take what they learned during the discussion and apply it.
"There are a lot more of them than you realize,” he said. “They’re the saving grace."
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