The National Center for Civil and Human Rights hosts The Brave Forum, presented by Gallagher Insurance

This June, The Center had the privilege of hosting the inaugural Brave Forum, a networking lunch and learn for DEI advocates, professionals, students, and the public to discuss the challenges facing DEI today and strategies to empower positive workplace change with our expert facilitators. This year’s theme “Navigating the New Era of DEI” gave an alternative perspective for examining DEI that most of us don’t often consider: homelessness. With diversity, equity, and inclusion under acute threat in our communities and the workplace, The Center and Gallagher Insurance developed this timely forum to discuss the path forward.  

The Center’s DEI Lead, Phil Polk, began the day by welcoming attendees with an explanation of how effective DEI work happens in brave spaces. Safe spaces impede crucial discussions of real DEI work to happen. Brave spaces push you to move past areas of comfort and share experiences that achieve a greater understanding. Polk invited attendees into a brave space where participants could all feel comfortable sharing their perspectives.  

Attendees then broke out into groups throughout the museum, for an extended conversation on the topics of: 

  • Diversity and Intersectionality in The Center’s March on Washington exhibit 
  • Equality vs. Equity in the Center’s Human Rights Gallery 

The Center’s expert DEI facilitators, Attallah Pamoja and Martha Caldwell, guided the discussions. Attendees shared challenges they faced regarding race, aspects of the workplace they would like to see change, and how to accomplish that transformation. Powerful Center backdrops with images from the March on Washington and maps of human rights violations worldwide enhanced the conversations with context, making them more impactful.  

After the breakout sessions, attendees returned to The Center’s Glenn Room for lunch and an exclusive screening of Dr. Terence Lester’s documentary, “Love Beyond Walls.” Dr. Lester’s film chronicles the time he spent on the streets of Tennessee with the unhoused community after state legislators passed House Bill 978, which made sleeping outdoors a Class E felony. The documentary humanizes homelessness and highlights the roles of race and inequity in the community.  

The post-screening Q&A with Dr. Lester and The Center’s LGBTQ Institute Executive Director, Tim’m West, was a highlight of the day. They discussed allyship and how employees could understand their roles in fulfilling Dr. King’s dream of creating a beloved community. The forum ended with a self-guided tour of The Center, a book giveaway, and a signing with Dr. Lester.  

As an advocate for cultural transformation, The Center continues to spread the messages of diversity, equity, and inclusion through training conducted by our expert facilitators. The Brave Forum presented a unique opportunity for The Center to provide the public with moderated versions of the sessions that DEI clients experience. We want to thank our sponsor, Gallagher Insurance, for partnering with The Center and supporting this forum.  

To learn more about DEI Experiences at The Center, visit