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A Brief History of The Table of Unity

Updated: Jun 28, 2023

The Table of Unity has evolved through several iterations over the last decade, emerging from two participants’ conversations about community, diversity, and creating supportive environments in which like-minded people can thrive. Subsequent conversations between the originators deepened their personal connections and laid the foundations for others to be involved. In January 2016, fifteen supporters (One by telephone. Another drove 300 miles to attend.) gathered to break bread, solidify the community, and lay the groundwork for future growth. That first gathering, inspired by Dr. Martin Luther King’s I Have a Dream speech, represented the first iteration of TOU’s Table of Brotherhood. Overwhelmingly positive, the feedback garnered from that gathering emphasized that the event was unlike participants’ previous experiences.

Table of Unity emerged as a descriptive and aspirational title for this nascent community. Continued conversations broadened members’ awareness of diversity. This awareness evolved into active seeking for opportunities to grow. TOU participants help each other in a variety of ways. Members benefit from others’ experience, knowledge, and wisdom. We operate with others personally, to our mutual benefit. TOU members’ wide-ranging stories and experiences - good and bad - represent a powerful aspect of King’s Table of Brotherhood.

The Opportunities Before Us

By Spring 2023, Table of Unity had held a year’s worth of scheduled meetings. We have had many more unofficial gatherings, impromptu conversations, and have worked to create, sustain, and grow the community. A facilitative core has emerged, new members joined, and transformed TOU into an agency in support of building “social capital” for its participants.

As in Dr. King's Beloved Community, TOU represents an open, non-judgemental community bound by shared interests. The years we have spent with no formal authority, time and goodwill our only resources, and a shared belief that building an authentically diverse and supportive community is good. Very good. In short, we seek to establish an inclusive community for all who feel like they belong. King’s Covenant to Create the Beloved Community lists first, “Seek Relationship,” as a simple and direct guide. We seek relationships, support our fellow members, and ultimately, the joy that comes from shared progress. We have developed guiding Pillars, seeking to shape our daily lives by becoming ambassadors for TOU. Our meetings center on participants’ personal stories, are intended to be “safe spaces,” promote growth, and support goodwill. We invite all interested persons to participate in hopes that we can spread the camaraderie we have enjoyed. We desire that others build and facilitate their own communities. Ten to fifteen people per Table seems to foster a diverse environment that allows for individual participants to supportively share. In short, we seek to plant TOU seeds of King’s Beloved Community. Our goal? Limitless, in terms of numbers of communities. Increased numbers potentially enhance our impact on how society and institutions operate. We hope to become a beacon light of hope to many; however, the Table of Unity is not a “crisis response.” TOU is a way of living. Not everyone will be persuaded but we can create a critical mass of people skilled in the TOU experience and, if our understanding of the potential for growth holds true, quickly proliferate.

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