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Common Ground – creating safe places to discuss change

August 7, 2013

Few can argue that news events during the summer of 2013 are clear evidence that we have more than enough race and gender based issues to debate and dispute in this country.  The problems are not new, and they won’t be solved overnight.  But it is heartening to know that there are those who are working to make positive changes.  Small steps, but steps in the right direction nonetheless.

That’s why it was encouraging and inspiring to be in attendance at the 5th Anniversary celebration of Common Ground Memphis.  Attended by about 100 people, young, old, Black, White, Latino, Asian, East Indian – it was as diverse a group as you can get. 

Founded by local Memphis newspaper columnist Wendi Thomas, Common Ground was established to create a safe place for people to come together to discuss issues of race here, in the city where Dr. Martin Luther King was assassinated, and where racial tension is never far from the social consciousness.  Common Ground uses a curriculum developed by Everyday Democracy to bring together small, ethnically diverse groups to dialogue and their racial identity and, most importantly, develop measurable action plans to improve disparities and interpersonal relationships.

Thousands of people have benefited from Common Ground’s efforts since  its 2008 launch, through free public sessions, and private sessions for businesses and organizations, exploring Memphis’ diverse culture through movies, plays and museums; dinner club discussions about race and “analyzing all the things that keep us apart and all the ways we can come together,”  says the Common Ground website. (

As a multinational corporation and Memphis’ largest private employer, FedEx has a stake in efforts to improve race relations in our headquarters city and beyond.  We’re proud to sponsor Common Ground and other organizations whose commitment to diversity and equality match our own. 

As evidenced in the news headlines we see every day… we need to do whatever we can to come together.  Despite how some of us want to divide it, or put up walls – we are all sharing the same Earth, the same space.  Surely there’s room for more Common Ground.

FedEx also provides sponsorship support to the following diversity-focused organizations:

 Check out this website for more information.




    Emily Lamar says:


    Yes, Common Ground Memphis is a remarkable and magnificent program. As one of the initial participants, the course was so life changing that I became a facilitator. Memphis encompasses various gems and Common Ground Memphis is definitely one of them.

    Thank you for sharing.

    Emily Lamar,
    Common Ground Memphis Class of 2008
    Common Ground Memphis Facilitator 2009 & 2010

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