Former mayor to address racial conference in Alabama next month

Mayor Joe Riley speaks outside Charleston City Hall in 2008. He left office last month and will go to Alabama next month to address a racial reconciliation conference there.

Former Charleston Mayor Joe Riley will travel to Birmingham, Ala., next month to address a National Racial Reconciliation Conference.

Set for March 3-4, the event is being hosted by Birmingham Mayor William Bell, Bishop Robert Baker of the Catholic Diocese of Birmingham and Dean Timothy George of Samford University.

It’s titled “Black and White in America: How Deep the Divide?”

The hosts said the conference was designed as “a possible pathway to dialogue” to improve racial harmony.

“A reflection-conversation on race relations in the United States among its African-American and white citizens is our humble effort to foster light and hope where darkness and despair may prevail,” they said in a joint statement.

Riley, who left office last month after serving 40 years, made racial inclusion a hallmark of his 40-year tenure, and he made national headlines for leading a march from Charleston to Columbia to protest the Confederate battle flag flying over the Statehouse. The flag later was relocated to the Statehouse grounds but was removed from there last year in the wake of the Emanuel AME Church shooting.

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