Franklin community to hold events to foster racial unity Monday, Tuesday

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In the wake of weekend protests across Tennessee and throughout the country concerning the deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and Ahmaud Arbery, Franklin residents are gathering for two events this week — a conversation on race Monday and a candlelight prayer vigil Tuesday.

The Public, a group in Franklin led by Anthony Hendricks and Brad Perry, has been meeting in Merridee's Breadbasket periodically over the last year to discuss race and issues surrounding race with the community.

"Its goal is to provide a safe place to have conversations on race in order to help educate and foster racial unity," Hendricks wrote on the group's Facebook page Saturday. "The one overarching theme that we kept realizing is that being non-racist is not enough. We have to be anti-racist which, means actively working against systemic racism in our hearts, our homes, our town and in our nation."

The group is inviting members of the community to meet in the parking lot of New Hope Academy on Monday, June 1, at 6 p.m. to talk about the recent events throughout the country.

Attendees are asked to bring lawn chairs or blankets to sit on, observing social distancing guidelines. The meeting will also be streamed on Facebook Live. For more information, visit www.facebook.com/ThePublicFranklin.

Community members are also coming together for a candlelight prayer vigil this week at the First Missionary Baptist Church parking lot on Natchez Street in Franklin.

The event will take place "in remembrance of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor and many more" from 6 p.m. to 7 p.m. on Tuesday, June 2.

"If you need a safe place to lament in Franklin, TN, please join us," said Chris Williamson, the senior pastor of Strong Tower Bible Church, on social media. "Everyone is welcome."

Candles will be provided at the site, but attendees must wear a mask and observe social distancing guidelines to participate.

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