Upcoming at the Forum


As of 12-5-2023

Next Tuesday, Dec. 12: Forum Christmas Party. Forum Facilitator Natheley McElrath has announced all the details. Watch the video here.

Upcoming Events

Dec. 6: Parenting Your Parent: Is Medicare Enough, 7 p.m., virtual.

Dec. 7: Genesis Project Brown Bag Breakfast Fellowship and fundraiser, 8-9:30 a.m., 5104 Reagan Dr. Ste. 5.

Dec. 9: Application Fair for Mecklenburg County HOMES program. More here.

Dec. 9: Winter Home Fair featuring teams helping with “critical home repairs, senior services, home weatherization,” 10:30 a.m.-1 p.m., TD Bank, 2020 Beatties Ford Rd.

Dec. 15: A Sign of the Times at Booth Playhouse, “Soulful Celebration featuring Toni Tupponce”, 8 p.m., tickets from $28.50 here.

Dec. 17: Info session for teachers interested in applying for two-week teacher training experiences at National Air and Space Museum. Zoom session 8:30 p.m.; link here.

Dec. 17: Holiday fundraiser for Hearts for the Invisible Charlotte, toy drive and homeless outreach event, 1-4 p.m., 15205 John J. Delaney Dr. Ste A.


Feb. 8: Pride Magazine’s Pride Awards luncheon, from 11 a.m., Westin, 601 S. College St. Individual online tickets $324.21.

Feb. 17: For The Struggle annual benefit gala and awards ceremony, 6 p.m., Orchid Banquet Hall, 521 Little Rock Rd. Tickets $100 here.

March 7: C.W. Williams Heath Center’s 6th Women’s Health & Doctor Recognition Luncheon, noon-1:30 p.m., Hilton Uptown Charlotte. Tickets $50 here.

March 24: Possible date of 3-on-3 basketball tournament, 10 a.m.-1 p.m., Jewish Community Center.

April 29-May 4: Diamond Tours trip with Dr. Blanche Penn and Tonia Cherry to Biloxi and New Orleans, $770.

June 24-27: Diamond Tours trip with Dr. Blanche Penn and Tonia Cherry to Amelia Island, St. Augustine and Jacksonville, Fla., $480.

July 29-Aug. 3: Diamond Tours trip with Dr. Blanche Penn and Petronila Clark to Memphis, $765.

Sept. 2-6: Diamond Tours trip with Dr. Blanche Penn and Petronila Clark to Savannah, Jekyll Island and Beaufort, S.C., $765.

Oct. 14-16: Diamond Tours trip with Dr. Blanche Penn and Venitra White-Dean to Charleston, $480.

Candidates & Elected Officials

Judge Aretha Blake 12-4

Natasha Marcus 12-1

Joyce Waddell 12-4

Governments, Nonprofits, Etc.

Center for Community Transitions 11-29

CharMeck Chronicle 12-1

Council for Children’s Rights 11-30 12-1

Goodwill Industries 12-4

View the
Announcements Archive

Education & Health


There’s help for those lost in the labyrinth called Health Insurance Coverage. Deadlines in both Medicare and Obamacare programs are looming.


Varnell Bien-Aime discusses his work with Reggie Singleton at The Males Place, a 30-year project to help guide teenaged boys toward a healthy and responsible adulthood.


A panel of school bond advocates and CMS’s top facilities planner fielded questions about the bond campaign, its potential to hasten gentrification, and whether there is buy-in from all governmental and other units to reverse the economic decline of westside neighborhoods.


CMS Superintendent Dr. Crystal L. Hill began with the family that shaped her, made a case that students are making up for lost time during the pandemic, and expressed a commitment to be the communicator-in-chief with the school district’s multiple constituencies that she will serve.


Sharon Geter, left, and Elizabeth Colen shared details of barriers they have faced in reaching their business objectives.


Longtime CMS observer Bolyn McClung offers state data illustrating persistent achievement gaps between schools.


Dr. Alyssa M. Burns and her Accellacare team explained clinical drug trials and their key role in assessing drugs’ usefulness and value in improving quality of life.


Dr Tempest Leake, whose second son has autism, was on a panel discussing a brain impairment that affects each person differently, but often leads to impaired verbal skills.


Four nurses who were pioneers in the desegregation of their profession and local hospitals recall the struggle.


Dr. Monique May commented on foods and cooking methods and how people might eat more heathfully.


Four of the six CMS board members elected from districts discussed what’s on the table, both as they meet and as they huddle one-on-one to find a way forward for children.


Alumni of Mecklenburg’s Black schools gathered to share with younger generations why they think they thrived, despite the racism and inequities that surrounded them.


Mic Alexander trains work groups and individuals on how to read the room and respond appropriately even as stress mounts.


Daisha Wall presented the work of CleanAIRENC to gather the data that can pressure polluters to help make westside neighborhoods healthier places to live.


A longtime observer of North Carolina public policy comments on the key role of public education in action to “alleviate poverty and propel upward mobility.”


The N.C. Supreme Court handed down a decision outlining a path toward ordering new state financing to ensure a sound basic education for all children.


Dr. Victor Mack led a discussion of pre-college programs for youth supported both by UNCC and the 100 Black Men of Greater Charlotte organization.


Raymond ‘Raki’ McGregor is among Charlotte Executive Leadership Council members working inside CMS to improve student outcomes.


Aug. 1 opens application period for annual applications for free- and reduced-price lunches for some CMS families.


CMS is seeking advice on redrawing attendance boundaries for more than a dozen schools effective in fall 2023.

View the Archives for
Education & Health

Community & Housing


Ratasha Smith, advocacy co-chair of the Urban League Young Professionals group, explained some of the group’s work to encourage participation in community affairs.


Jessica Leflowitz, left, and Judith Brown have built small organizations doing big work with disability and homeless populations.


Three panelists lay out programs available to low-income households to assist with tax bills, energy expenses and renovation projects.


Robyn Lake Hamilton, named interim leader of the Central Carolinas Urban League last winter, laid out an agenda for the group that is both new and steeped in the national group’s history.


Valaida Fullwood announced Black Philanthropy Month and some events connected with that celebration.


Rachel Zwipf from Pottstown Heritage Group recounted efforts to stabilize and protect Huntersville’s historically Black neighborhood and its mostly senior residents from gentrification.


Shannon Burns, left, Laura Belcher and Julie Porter outlined issues behind the difficulty of building, financing and finding affordable housing in Charlotte.


Dennis Miller, left, and Travis Sheridan offered an update from developer Wexford Science & Technology on construction under way for Charlotte’s first medical school.


Ray High, left, is spearheading plans for a 2024 Charlotte Black Creative Arts Festival.


Jamese Ivy led a United Way update focused on upcoming deadlines for grant applications.


Sherri Chisholm and other staff from Leading on Opportunity returned to the Forum with an update on their work in the shadow of Raj Chetty’s “50th of 50” study on social mobility.


Chrystal Joy and Toni Tupponce from Lee Institute, working for county commissioners, listened for views on the impact on neighborhoods from large investor groups’ ownership of single-family homes.


Copeland Barbee and others from the Center for Digital Equity explained how a multi-partner project is putting laptops in the hands of people who need them, then training them through the move into the digital age.


Steve Crump, the veteran television journalist and documentarian, shared with the Forum his latest effort: “Andrew Young’s Datelines of Protest.”


Sandra Cummings, left, and three other women shared their experiences as trailblazers for other women as they broke into the male-dominated lawyer profession.


Charlene Price-Patterson, left, Debbie Mann Gibbs and Bea Thompson recounted the early years of women in Charlotte television.


Malcomb Coley presented an update on the Mayor’s Racial Equity Initiative, and discussed an economic development project using private dollars that has hit roadblocks.


Rep. Adams made a speech on the floor of the U.S. House about Black History Month.


Alesha Brown has hustled into existence a nonprofit focused on meeting seniors’ needs where they are, thereby shoring up fragile minority neighborhoods.


Kathryn Firmin-Sellers led a presentation from United Way about efforts to redirect diminished resources to emerging community needs through emerging community organizations.

View the Archives for
Housing, Work, Community

Growing Business


Carrie Cook discussed some of the work of the Federal Reserve toward financing businesses, consumer protection and community development.


Sherrell Dorsey, once based in Charlotte, has announced the unplugging of “The Plug,” an online chronicler of Blacks in the tech industry.


Charlotte Regional Visitors Authority CFO Anthony Shelborne explains the group’s outreach to area companies for help with venue hospitality.


Traletta Banks, left, was one of four entrepreneurial minds in different economic sectors explaining their challenges, and seeing opportunities to work together.


Frances Hall recounts her struggle to bring training in the construction trades to young people who turn their new skills into gainful employment.


Cheryse Terry shared the story of how life events led her to the successful creation of a new Black-owned coffee shop and gathering place on Beatties Ford Road.


An overview of the Growing Business category.


Book review by Daniel Souleles , left, may offer a routine-stopping opportunity to think about how systems can hurt people.


A study tracks the implications of continuing inequities in entrepreneurial opportunity.


John McDonald created at LaSalle and Beatties Ford a community meeting spot. The building’s new owner is seeking historic status for the site.


Steven Coker was among City of Charlotte staffers describing efforts to include minority-owned firms in city contracting.


Guide published to the 20-some murals along Beatties Ford Road.


Kevin Price, left, led the Durham-based National Institute of Minority Economic Development in a review of their work in a five-state area.


Rachelle Latimer, left, has pursued an entrepreneurial path to success. Her words may be inspiring to those who are committed, driven and hungry.


CEO Teddy McDaniel, left, and COO Dr. Fahnie Shaw discuss how the Urban League is targeting economic gaps and employment opportunities.


Chris Dennis says he listens to the community, hires off the street and in doing so is revitalizing the Beatties Ford Road corridor.


Dr. Shanté Williams described her work as an angel investor and as head of the Charlotte Mecklenburg Black Chamber of Commerce.


Ralphine Caldwell reviews the initial months in the Charlotte work of Local Initiatives Support Corp.


Najah Roberts, chief visionary officer for Crypto Blockchain Plug, believes cryptocurrency will affect everyone, whether or not they invest in Bitcoin or other digital products.


Marvin Kelly described Goodwill Industries’ training and other missions and answered questions.

View the Archives for

Government & Politics


The U.S. Justice Department released a report on Minneapolis conditions that contributed to the 2020 murder of George Floyd, and its recommendations for reform.


Caleb Theodros was among the speakers as the Forum hosted a community discussion of how Rep. Tricia Cotham’s announced switch to the GOP may alter the balance of power between the legislative and executive branches.


Kristie Puckett-Williams told her story, and the story of hundreds of women incarcerated in North Carolina, who do not receive appropriate care when pregnant.


Faith Triggs, a volunteer with the Vote Yes for City Bonds Committee, led off a discussion of what’s in the Nov. 8 city bond referendum package.


Congresswoman Alma Adams gave an update on work that Congress has been doing, and her efforts to bring factions together to serve the American people.


Community Relations held a virtual session on its Americans With Disabilities Act Transition Plan.


County Tax Assessor Ken Joyner explained how NC law limits action to protect homeowners in gentrifying neighborhoods from crushing tax bills.


City Manager Marcus Jones, left, and Mayor Vi Lyles fielded questions from constituents impatient for conditions to improve in underserved westside neighborhoods.


Longtime city and county leader Ella Scarborough has died, the Observer reported.


A report from library staff runs down ways in which racist attitudes and policies have shaped Mecklenburg County.


Alysia Osborne, left, and Interim Planning Director Alyson Craig gave an update on the city’s 2040 Plan.


Court of Superior Court Elisa Chinn-Gary says she has reconsidered, and will file for re-election.


District Court Judge Rickye McKoy-Mitchell announced her retirement effective next September.


Elisa Chinn-Gary, a 20-year veteran of the Mecklenburg courts, won’t seek re-election as Clerk of Superior Court.


A ceremony marked the retirement of Superior Court Judge Donnie Hoover.


Assistance with heating bills available this winter to low-income families.


Sen. Natasha Marcus, head of the Mecklenburg legislative delegation, reviewed successes and challenges in Raleigh.


Hannah Terrell, left, led a discussion of how the library system stays open to serve its users in the community – and nation.


Details on an FCC program offering help with affording broadband services.


Center City Partners is seeking public comment on its 2040 plan.

View the Archives for
Government & Politics

Candidates & Ballots


Mecklenburg voting results for school bonds and board and Charlotte city officials.


U.S. Rep. Jeff Jackson vowed that, if elected as the next N.C. Attorney General, he would refocus N.C. law enforcement energies on fentanyl, the poison that is killing North Carolinians and Americans nationwide.


Democrat Tiawana Brown answers questions about the District 3 City Council race on Nov. 7.


The last group of candidates on the Nov. 7 ballot running for three CMS school board seats presented today.


Five of the 14 candidates on the Nov. 7 ballot for three at-large seats on the CMS Board of Education addressed the Forum.


Preliminary results in Charlotte primary election, as reported by the State Board of Elections.


Forum heard from four of the six Democrats involved in City Council primaries for Districts 4 and 5 on Sept. 12.


Tiawana Brown, left, and Warren Turner, two of the three District 3 Council Democratic primary candidates, offered views on the needs of the city and its people.


Robert Dawkins offered a summary of state voting rules applying to the Sept. 12 primary election.


Malcolm Graham, left, defends his District 2 City Council record in session with challenger Gary Young.


Five of six Democrats in the Sept. 12 Democratic primary for four City Council At-Large seats explored their roles in moving the city forward.


Mayor Vi Lyles, a Democrat in the September primary, and Rob Yates, a Libertarian wiith no primary, discussed city growth issues.


Nov. 8, 2022 voting results for candidates on the Mecklenburg ballot.


Three candidates for N.C. House seats concluded Forum presentations on the Nov. 8 election.


Six Democrats, five of them incumbents, explained their efforts to advocate for change in the GOP-controlled N.C. House


Four of the eight candidates in contested races for the N.C. Senate answered questions.


Susan Rodriguez-McDowell, D-6, Laura Meier, D-5, and Mark Jerrell, D-4, addressed county challenges ahead.


Carolyn Thompson has served as a judge halfway across North Carolina, but is on the Mecklenburg ballot Nov. 8. Judge candidates and Soil & Water board candidates addressed participants.


Candidates for at-large and two district seats on the Board of County Commissioners addressed participants.


Six candidates running for CMS Board of Education seats to represent Districts 2, 4 and 6 answered questions.

View the Archives for
Candidates & Ballots

Forum & Commentary


Natheley McElrath announces details of the 2023 Forum Christmas Party on Dec. 12.


An Open Forum focused on the concerns that people brought with them: Holding leaders accountable for doinig what they promised; school bonds; rendering restorative justice; reaching youth; bolstering civic knowledge.


Sarah Stevenson, co-founder of the Forum, has died. More information from her funeral and a Celebration of LIfe.


A bit of flora for the Fourth of July holiday period.


Regulars at the Forum, joined by a large Facebook audience, reviewed how a decades-old mainstay of community building can serve younger generations, as well as involve them.


Jimmy Carter’s prophetic words from 1979 deserve a re-reading in 2023 America.


The Forum’s website marked Black History Month 2023 with this collection honoring local African Americans who have helped shape that history.


Facilitator WInston Robinson led participants in a discussion of how the Forum might help the community focus on the issues it faces.


Who will lead efforts to solve key community issues instead of just kicking them down the road?


These windows on the 2022 holidays were published in the “Recently at the Forum” space on the front of this website during the Forum’s winter holiday.


Mary Klenz offered a remembrance of educator and mixed-income housing advocate Richard McElrath.


Forum co-founder Sarah Stevenson marked her 97th birthday at the Forum.


Ceretha Sherrill shared personal reflections on the occasion of the upcoming Juneteenth celebration.


DonnaMarie Woodson continues her series, ‘Incredible Black Women You Should Know About,” with Hollywood actress Frederika “Fredi” Washington, who refused to ‘pass’ in 1930s Hollywood.


Clips from May 31 Forum video focus on issues raised by initial use of Quad camera in Cisco Web Kit.


The room where the Forum has met in person since 2016 has had an upgrade since the pandemic lockdown.


Facilitators set May 24 as the date for resumption of in-person Forum meetings.


DonnaMarie Woodson continues her series, ‘Incredible Black Women You Should Know About,” with an essay on NASA astronaut Mae Jemison.


The national Urban League has published “Under Siege: The Plot to Destroy Democracy.”


DonnaMarie Woodson continues her series, ‘Incredible Black Women You Should Know About,” with an essay on Nobel laureate Wangari Maathai.

View the Archives for
Inside the Forum