The violent protests following the fatal police shooting of Keith Lamont Scott were especially unsettling to Charlotte native and Novant Health executive Jesse Cureton.
“We all know that the horrific shooting that took place...and the protests subsequent to that represented not only the shooting, but it represented some things really deep in our community,” said Cureton, referring specifically to the pain felt by many over socioeconomic disparities.
That’s especially the case within Charlotte neighborhoods in need, amid questions about equal access to jobs, quality schools and healthcare.
“My roots are here in Charlotte. Most of my family is still here in Charlotte,” said Cureton, who grew up in Southside Homes on Griffith Street. “(I have) family represented in every socioeconomic level that exists...I’ve seen and lived through pain that is very real for people.”
To this point, Cureton, along with members of Charlotte’s business, nonprofit and religious communities founded One Charlotte, an initiative that formally launches Sunday with a symbolic march from Trade and Tryon streets to Romare Bearden Park. The public is invited.
One Charlotte is led by Cureton; Brett Carter, senior executive, Bank of America; and Gene Woods, president and CEO of Carolinas HealthCare System.
Organizers describe the group as “a holistic initiative designed to begin the conversation around investments in our community’s critical needs.” Also a focus: helping Charlotte heal following the September protests and demonstrations.
For that to happen, in-depth discussions must happen involving grassroots communities, activists, clergy, nonprofits and the corporate community: “How do we become a community that really cares about all of the citizens in the community?” Cureton said.
One Charlotte is focusing on four pillars: investing in neighborhoods most in need, supporting the recommendations of the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Opportunity Task Force, investing in the Charlotte-Mecklenburg criminal justice system and removing barriers to education, employment and healthcare.
The opportunity task force formed last year following a 2014 study from Harvard University and UC-Berkeley. The study showed that poor children in Charlotte are less likely to get out of poverty compared to their peers in America’s 50 largest cities.
Task force co-chairs Dr. Ophelia Garmon-Brown, Novant Health senior vice president of community wellness and education, and U.S. Bank executive Dee O’Dell “have been connected to this work” by One Charlotte, Cureton said. “The goal of this effort is really not to reinvent the wheel.”
Charlotte Center City Partners managed the logistics of Sunday’s event. The program at the park will include a 100-member choir, prayer from diverse religious representatives, community leaders and music from local Charlotte talent.
Want to go?
One Charlotte invites the public to its symbolic march to Romare Bearden Park on Sunday from 1-5 p.m. Staging for the march begins at 1 p.m. at Trade and Tryon Streets. Fellowship, music and food. Participants are encouraged to wear comfortable shoes and bring blankets and chairs to the park.