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Inaugural Margaret Fuller lecture series launches with 'The Cincy Rainbow Panel'

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A new lecture series is launching Monday as part of an effort to improve justice, equity and environmental sustainability throughout the Tri-State. CEO of Community Shares of Greater Cincinnati T. Duane Gordon says the inaugural Margaret Fuller Lecture Series is intentionally being launched during a time when the country continues seeing hard-nosed political divides.

"What we are trying to do is present experiences, present stories from people, present facts and their lived experiences so that we can hopefully get those messages out there," he said. "And if someone is on the other side of those issues, and doesn't believe the same way that our panelists do, hopefully, we're at least exposing them to some of the reasons why people on the other side believe the way they do."

He says the nonprofit hosts an annual annual reception for major donors, which moved online last year because of COVID-19 restrictions.

"We had a speaker from the Ohio Justice & Policy Center discussing reforms to the criminal justice system in the wake of the George Floyd murder. And we actually had more people from the public attending than our major donors," he said. "And that sparked the idea of 'We could turn this into a recurring conversation throughout the community on some difficult topics, such as racial equity and LGBTQ rights, and other issues that are facing Cincinnatians.'"

Tonight's lecture is called "The Cincy Rainbow" panel. It focuses on LGBTQ history in Cincinnati and what still needs to change in the community to make things more equitable. One of the speakers is Jim Obergefell, who was the lead plaintiff in the Supreme Court case that legalized same sex marriage nationwide.

Local speakers include photographer Ron Clemons, Johnson & Johnson Regional Business Director Ryan Messer, journalist Kyle Inskeep, and others.

Gordon says the organization is looking for more topics that align with the major mission of the organization, including social justice, economic justice, environmentalism, and animal welfare. Diversity, equity and inclusion is set for a discussion in January.

Monday night's event is free and online. It begins at 7 p.m. To sign up, visit the Community Shares website.

Jolene Almendarez is the granddaughter of Mexican immigrants who came to San Antonio in the 1960s. She was raised in a military family and has always called the city home. She studied journalism at San Antonio College and earned a bachelor's degree in Journalism and Public Communications from the University of Alaska Anchorage. She's been a reporter in San Antonio and Castroville, Texas, and in Syracuse and Ithaca, New York.