Inland Empire leaders working for social and racial justice recently gathered at the National Innovative Communities Conference.
Organized by Reach Out, the event took place on Tuesday, June 21 at the Riverside Convention Center.
The theme, “You Are The Fire”, called for “all leaders united in the fight for social justice and united in building an impenetrable fortress of anti-racism and support for people of color, immigrants and LGTBQ+- communities,” said a press release.
Keynote speaker Kelli Dillon’s work on social justice was documented in the Emmy award-winning film “Belly of the Beast”.
Margarita Luna, of the California Endowment Center, moderated a panel discussion that asked the question, “What’s your fire?” Panelist Luz Gallegos, Executive Director of TODEC Legal Center in Perris, discussed a farmer who had died from COVID-19 when the pandemic started.
“This farmer had to continue working during the pandemic to provide for his family,” Gallegos said according to the release.
She held a photo of an elderly man who died of COVID-19, pictured with a young boy.
“This is my fire,” Gallegos said tearfully, the release reads.
Other panelists included: Gabriel Maldonado, CEO of TruEvolution; Janice Rooths, CEO of RootWize; and Malek Bendelhoum, Executive Director of the Sahaba Initiative.
Reach Out’s Citizens Policy and Leadership Racial Justice program partners were honored, as were its vaccine stock partners. The conference also included a celebration of Juneteenth and a performance by the Bre Dance Team.
The organization has offices in Upland, Jurupa Valley and Yucca Valley.