JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Weekly ‘Unity Lines’ event promotes unity in response to social division.
A weekly event in Jacksonville’s public parks promotes unity in response to social division in the wake of recent violence.
Xavier Brewer organized the “Unity Lines” event after seeing the recent string of tragedies from the mass shooting in Orlando to the police shootings in Dallas and Baton Rouge.
Brewer said the idea is to get people from different backgrounds to come together and discuss their differences in a peaceful setting.
“It’s not a place to debate, more so a place to listen -- to understand,” Brewer said.
Brewer said there’s so much division, especially on the internet and social media about these recent tragedies, that they want people to come together and realize they can be unified and not so divided.
“I pretty much got the idea with everything going happening on Facebook,” Brewer said. “All the division of people going at each other. Who’s right, who’s wrong? Trying to shove division down people’s throat. I feel that’s not the best way to go about it, especially when you’re in an emotional state.”
The weekly event in Jacksonville’s parks are held Sunday nights, and everyone from NFL players to police officers have shown up. The events start by members asking questions about what types of privileges or disadvantages people have had in life to illustrate that there are differences between everyone's experiences.
Robert Eleazer was invited to one, and said he wasn’t sure what to expect.
“You can only learn more from people from different backgrounds. If you’re just around someone who agrees with everything you do, there’s no growth,” Eleazer said. “So, it’s a great learning opportunity for everybody.”
On the unity line, people of different backgrounds line up and talk about their backgrounds and beliefs.
“Some people do get a head start in a sense, and some people have to start from behind,” Brad Showalter, Cre8 Life said. “None of those things are a result of anything we’ve chosen, it’s just kind of how we were born. So, we like to show separation in the beginning, then have small group discussion to bring us back together.”
There’s a Unity Line gathering at Memorial Park Sunday at 7 p.m.
There’s another Unity Line at Unity Plaza next Sunday night at 7 p.m.
A cookout for local law enforcement will be held before the event, starting at 6 p.m.