DALLAS - This is the ninth year that the DFW Student Council Leadership Forum held the "Race to End Racism" discussion.
It's a student-led program and, for the past several years, has been held at Park Cities Baptist Church as it continues to grow in popularity.
Their conversations are raw, real and sometimes deeply personal.
Some 450 students from over 40 schools in North Texas participated in the 2024 DFW Student Council Leadership Forum hosted by Highland Park High School.
John Hinton is the student sponsor. He says none of the students at each table know one another. It's by design to get them out of their comfort zones.
"Later on, they'll brainstorm ideas," he said. "Okay, let's identify some problems that are going on and what can we do to confront that."
And as the day went on, students began to open up.
Kenneth Nwadike Jr. is a peace activist and one of the keynote speakers at the forum. He shared one of his social media posts that went viral after he hugged a white police officer in Charlotte, North Carolina, in the midst of a riot in 2016. The angry crowd of protestors nearly turned on him, but he managed to calm them down.
Nwadike says understanding where other people are coming from is key in connecting. He still has a relationship with that white police officer he hugged.
"It gets the students’ wheels turning about what are some of the things they've experienced on a personal level in their own lives," he said.
By the end of the day, students traded social media and cell phone information.
Organizers say students stay in touch with one another years later, which they say is proof to them that symposiums like these work to help break down barriers.