SAN ANTONIO – A 16-day summit known as “DreamWeek” got underway in San Antonio Friday morning with a breakfast attended by dozens of business, community and government leaders.
Although its name implies that it will last seven days, it actually will feature more than two weeks’ worth of events. That includes music, art and conversations aimed at promoting harmony and understanding among people in the city.
The goal is to continue the dream of civil rights leader the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
"It's a time to celebrate our accomplishments, but also talk about the difficult conversations that we have and will continue in the future for us to be a truly compassionate and inclusive place,” said Mayor Ron Nirenberg, who attended the kickoff at the Briscoe Western Art Museum.
This is the sixth year the summit is being held. This year, however, it coincides with the city’s Tricentennial celebration.
Nirenberg said the timing couldn’t be more perfect.
"It makes complete sense that DreamWeek would thrive in San Antonio,” he said. “If there's a city in the world that can handle an important event like this, it's San Antonio. "
He said although there appears to be widespread tension in this country based on race and other issues, San Antonians have a history of working together.
People who attended the Friday morning kickoff heard from a man who makes it his mission to heal hate.
Daryl Davis gained notoriety for building relationships with members of the Ku Klux Klan and other hate groups, and in many cases, changing their hearts.
"We hate those things that frighten us,” Davis said. “And if we do not keep that hate in check, that hatred in turn will breed destruction."
Davis said he, initially, was unaware of the type of hate he later would encounter.
However, he said his naïveté was shattered when, as a child marching in a parade in Massachusetts, people in the crowd hurled bottles at him. Davis said he learned the reason was because he was the only African-American marching in an all-white parade.
"There are people who have an issue with the color of someone's skin, and why they had that issue I did not know,” Davis said. “How can you hate me when you don't even know me?"
That question led to a lifelong search for answers.
Davis, who is a professional musician, had a chance meeting with a member of the KKK while playing piano at a bar.
That meeting led him to find those answers in an unlikely source, the leader of that white supremacist group in Maryland.
He said after building a friendship with that KKK leader, he ultimately convinced him to stop hating.
That, too, is the dream behind DreamWeek.