KILLEEN, Texas — More than 50 people packed into the Village United in Killeen Thursday night to participate in the State of the Black Community forum.

Attendees included residents, community leaders, and even Texas Rep. Brad Buckley. Everyone was eager to participate and share in the open dialogue. 

The six-person panel of experts answered questions and discussed the state of education, mental health, employment, politics, as well as multi-generational trauma and post-traumatic slave syndrome, among other topics.

There was an exchange of information among moderators and attendees about different programs available to the public. Attendees were asked to fill out surveys ranking what issues mattered most to them.

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Organizer and CEO of Texas Black Pages Ronnie Russell said there's a real need for forums like this in Killeen.

"There's a stigma where some people say black people can't work together, well this shows that we can. It's the momentum that we need in order to make things different in our community. When we gain that momentum we will take that momentum and push things forward and we will have a better black community in this city. We can talk about problems all day but without developing solutions we'll always stay in that problematic position," Russell said.

Russell also said it was important for the next generation of children in the room to see people who look like them, uniting in a positive manner and brainstorming ways to continue improving.

The panel and organizers announced the formation of Killeen's first ever Black Chamber of Commerce, which will hold a grand opening in February.

To build on the momentum of Thursday night's event, organizers also asked everyone to attend Killeen's first-ever "Stop the Violence Take the Streets Back March" is happening Saturday morning at the Bridgewater Retreat Apartments.

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