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Report for America is a national service program that places journalists into local newsrooms to report on under-covered issues and communities.

UC Berkeley Professor Talks With Members Of The DeKalb Community


A civil rights expert shared his perspective with DeKalb community members on belonging. This happened Thursday evening during a Zoom conversation.

The conversation was presented by Northern Illinois University and the City of DeKalb. 

dr. john a. powell, who spells his name with lowercase letters, is the director of the Other & Belonging Institute at the University of California, Berkeley.

He said in a space of belonging, police officers should become more invested in the community.    

“We know crime happens in the black community. In that sense, we need public safety people in the community to help us. We need them to actually, if you will, care. And I would even say love the community. You can't really police people you don't care about.”

powell also states that creating a community of belonging requires several layers of attention.

“But to do this at the scale that we really need to do, it requires several containers. It requires someone holding this, someone saying, 'We're going to do this, and we're going to bring people together.'”

He said the community needs to create a space for these conversations to take place.

powell answered questions from a group of panelists. They included Interim Police Chief Bob Redel and the pastor of New Hope Missionary Baptist Church Dr. Joe Mitchell.

The full conversation is available at the City of DeKalb’s website.

  • Yvonne Boose is a 2020 corps member for Report for America, an initiative of the GroundTruth Project. It's a national service program that places talented journalists in local newsrooms like WNIJ. You can learn more about Report for America at wnij.org.