Columbia Parks and Recreation coordinates panel discussion

The event was part of Columbia's Black History Month events.
President of the Minority Men's Network Steve Calloway speaks about the problems with health care in the U.S. at a panel discussion Tuesday night. As part of Black History Month events, the Columbia Parks and Recreation coordinated a panel discussion titled "Where Do We Go From Here?"

As part of Black History Month events, the Columbia Parks and Recreation coordinated a panel discussion "Where Do We Go From Here?" Tuesday night.

The panel of seven community members discussed the current state of the nation and what will come of the Obama administration and other politicians in the next four years.

"We want to try and get people to talk about important issues," Parks and Recreation specialist Bill Thompson said. "It gets people to think outside of the box."

Topics discussed included from gun control, universal health care, economic development and political gridlock.

One of problems that hurts the country's economy today is the attitude government as toward other countries, panel member and Columbia resident Carmen Williams said.

"We were a pivotal point of the world for so long, and we still are in many ways," Williams said. "But we need to end xenophobia and recognize that other countries have something to offer to the world too. We are not the most pivotal country in the world anymore and there's nothing wrong with that."

Other panel members included president of Keep Columbia Free Mark Flakne, President of the Minority Men's Network Steve Calloway, First Ward Ambassadors member Darrell Foster and Columbia resident Addae Ahmad.

The panel event began four years ago and has occurred every February. However, Thomson hopes to expand the panel from being just a Black History Month event and have a panel to discuss current national issues more often.

"This is the kind of dialogue we need to have more often," Thomson said. "We don't get the chance to talk to each other about these issues anymore in today's society."

The more people debate and discuss issues, the more motivated they will be to take action, Thomson said.

"We need to start motivation people to be more verbal," Thomson said. "We need to get people to keep their politicians accountable and send messages to them."

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